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Pakistan v New Zealand 2022/23

Who is leading Pakistan in Babar’s absence, Rizwan or Sarfaraz? What do the Laws say?

Rizwan Sarfaraz captain
by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

As Pakistan captain Babar Azam did not take field on the third day during the Karachi Test match, a curious confusion prevailed.

Babar (161), Sarfaraz Ahmed (86), and Agha Salman (103) helped Pakistan recovered from 48-3 and post 438 in the first Test of the two-match series against New Zealand, at the National Stadium in Karachi. In response, Tom Latham and Devon Conway took New Zealand to 165-0 by stumps.

However, when Pakistan took field on the third morning, the eleven fielders did not feature Shan Masood, Salman, or – most significantly – Babar. All of them had (reportedly) caught a ‘viral flu’.

Pakistan had left Mohammad Rizwan, wicketkeeper and former captain, out of the playing XI. They had replaced him with Sarfaraz (also a former captain). Now, on the third day, words of Rizwan leading the XI in Babar’s absence started doing the rounds.

Had that been the case, it would have violated Law 24.1.2 (“a substitute shall not bowl or act as captain but may act as wicketkeeper only with the consent of the umpires”).

However, the confusion was cleared in the last ball of the 53rd over, when Nauman Ali bowled at Conway. The ball hit the pad, the Pakistani fielders appealed, and Aleem Dar ruled Conway not out.

Sarfaraz had a word with Rizwan (an outfielder for the day) and Nauman before deciding to review. Dar had to overturn his decision. The moment also cleared up the confusion over who had been in charge in Babar’s absence. While anyone can change the field or bowling, only the captain (or a stand-in) is allowed to opt for the review. If Rizwan is indeed ‘in charge’, he will be doing his duties at an unofficial capacity.

Conway left for 82, while Abrar Ahmed took out Latham for 113. New Zealand reached 245-2 by lunch on the third day, with Kane Williamson (19*) and Henry Nicholls (10*) at the crease. They still trail by 193 runs.

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