Sarfaraz Ahmed will be Pakistan's captain in the World Cup later this year, the country's Cricket Board announced Tuesday, backing the under-fire player, who is serving a four-ODI ban for his racist comments in a game against South Africa recently. Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Ehsan Mani told a media conference in Lahore that Sarfaraz would carry on as captain for the World Cup and praised his skills and contribution to the team.
"There should be no doubt that Sarfaraz is the Pakistan cricket team's captain. He will lead the team in the series against Australia and also in the World Cup," the PCB chairman said. The confirmation ended speculation that the board might consider Shoaib Malik to lead the team in the World Cup after the board recalled Sarfaraz from South Africa. Sarfaraz was banned for breaching the ICC's anti-racism policy during the second one-day international at Durban.
The board contributed to the speculation and uncertainty by insisting that the captain would be announced after the Pakistan Super League with Malik leading the team in the ongoing ODI and T20 series in South Africa. "Sarfaraz has made great progress since he led the team in the Under-19 World Cup, he has only improved with time," Mani said.
Mani also insisted that he was always clear in his mind about the captaincy. "I was always clear in my mind that Sarfaraz would be the captain. Sarfaraz has been an integral part of the Pakistan's World Cup preparations. He has proved to be a good strategist, leader and performer," he said.
Mani pointed out that Sarfaraz had also led Pakistan to the Champions Trophy title in 2017 and to the number one position in world T20 rankings. Ahmed, who accompanied Mani at the media briefing, said that he was grateful to the board for reposing confidence in him and giving him a chance to lead the team in the upcoming World Cup.
"It is a great honor to join those players who have captained their teams in the World Cup. I feel proud and we will try our best to perform well there," he said. "I don't worry about if I would be the team's captain in a year's time or not. I focused on my responsibilities on a series-to-series basis and will continue to do so," he added. Sarfaraz has been captain in 35 of his 101 ODI appearances dismissing 121 batsmen behind the wickets. As captain, he has won 21 matches.
(With inputs from agencies.)