As had been widely expected for some time, Shahid Afridi has been named Pakistan captain for the Twenty20 game against Sri Lanka next month. He takes over from Younis Khan, who retired from the format after leading Pakistan to the World Twenty20 title last month.
Afridi was instrumental in that triumph, turning in Man-of-the-Match performances in both the semi-final and the final. Since Younis's retirement Afridi has been the leading candidate to take over, even as chairman Ijaz Butt initially said he would try and convince Younis to reconsider. Presently, he has only been appointed for the one game against Sri Lanka, but a more permanent decision is expected sooner rather than later.
It will be the first time Afridi will lead the national team in any format of the game, getting his chance nearly 13 years after making his Pakistan debut. The last five years have been the most productive of Afridi's career, where despite brief patches of indifference, he has established himself as a fixture in Pakistan's limited-overs set-up. His form has been particularly good this year, with impressive performances in the ODI series and Twenty20 against Australia in Dubai in May. That culminated with his critical role in leading Pakistan to the World Twenty20 title. Allied to his player-of-the-tournament contributions in the 2007 version, another indicator of his suitability to this format, his ascension became inevitable.
Whenever there has been a captaincy change over the last couple of years, Afridi's name has figured prominently among the contenders. He has plenty of captaincy experience at the domestic level, having been at the helm of Habib Bank Limited, Sind and Karachi Dolphins over the past few years.