LAHORE - M Hafeez Thursday stepped down as Pakistan Twenty20 cricket team captain after the team's failure to qualify for the semi-finals of the World T20 Tournament in Bangladesh.
All-rounder Hafeez announced his retirement from the T20 captaincy and also vice-captaincy of the Test and one-day sides here on Thursday after a meeting with Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Management Committee (MC) Chairman Najam Sethi.
Pakistan went out from the Super-10 stage after a disappointing 84-run defeat against the West Indies on Tuesday, failing to reach the last four for the first time in five editions of the tournament since its inception in 2007. Hafeez, 33, was made national T20 captain in 2012 and has played 36 tests, 146 ODIs and 58 T20 internationals.
Hafeez said he accepted responsibility for the early exit. "It was a decision I took after much thought and I apologise to the people who have always supported me for our performance in the tournament," he said. Hafeez led Pakistan to the semi-finals in the last World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka two years ago, shortly after taking over from Misbahul Haq. The all-rounder, who opens both the batting and the bowling with his off-spin, said no one forced him to quit. "I am under no pressure and felt that I must step down as leader by taking responsibility, and it's for the PCB to decide who to lead the team," he added.
Pakistan team has no assignment before their series against Australia in October when they will play two Tests, three one-days and one Twenty20 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Hafeez, 33-year-old, said he was ready to join the ranks under any captain. "I am ready to play under any captain as I have done my job with responsibility as captain as well as player," he asserted. Pakistan began the World Twenty20 with a defeat against arch-rivals India before winning their next two games against Australia and Bangladesh.
Hafeez said the players had made too many unforced mistakes during their defeats. "Our players committed mistakes which led to our defeat and we take responsibility. I have already apologised to the nation for letting down our fans," he concluded.
Head coach Moin Khan said Hafeez's decision should be praised. "Hafeez has accepted responsibility and has stepped down so we all must praise his decision," Moin told reporters here.
Khan also urged the media and fans to back the team. "When we won two matches media and fans made us heroes, but after the West Indies defeat, they made us zeroes, so they must back us in these hard times."
When asked if he had also contemplated stepping down as head coach, former Test captain Moin Khan said his contract with the board was for two tournaments and it was over now. "My contract is over now and not everyone can take responsibility. I think Hafeez has set a very healthy precedent by taking responsibility for the team's performance."
All-rounder Shahid Afridi, who led Pakistan to the semi-finals of the last 50-over World Cup in India three years ago, is widely tipped to take over the captaincy.