Azhar given one-match suspension for slow over rate

England v Pakistan - 5th One Day International
Azhar Ali had a previous over-rate offence, against New Zealand in January last year © Getty Images

Pakistan’s ODI captain Azhar Ali has been given a one-match suspension by the ICC for his side’s slow over rate during the fifth ODI against Australia in Adelaide on Sunday. Azhar will miss Pakistan’s next ODI, on the tour of West Indies in April.

Azhar was also docked 40% of his match fee, while the players were fined 20%, after Pakistan were found to be two overs short of their target once time allowances were taken into consideration. Thursday’s match was Azhar’s second minor over-rate offence in ODIs over the last 12 months: on January 31, he was fined 20% of his match fee after a game against New Zealand in Auckland. Azhar was also fined 100% of his match fee during a Test against New Zealand in Hamilton in November, when he was stand-in captain in Misbah-ul-Haq’s absence.

The charge was laid by on-field umpires Simon Fry and C Shamshuddin, third umpire Chris Gaffaney, and fourth official Sam Nogajski, and came at the end of a disappointing series for Azhar. Pakistan were beaten 4-1, after Australia’s 57-run win in the fifth match, even as Azhar struggled with the bat and his fitness. He scored 24 runs in the first ODI before missing two matches due to a hamstring niggle. On his return, he scored 7 and 6 in the last two ODIs.

The result in Australia, and a shaky tenure as captain during which Pakistan dropped to ninth on the ODI rankings, may result in Azhar being axed from the role. It is learned that PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan, chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mushtaq Ahmed, the head coach at the National Cricket Academy are united in their belief that Sarfraz Ahmed, who leads Pakistan’s T20 side, should take over the ODI captaincy.

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