Sarfraz to captain Pakistan at World Cup, PCB confirms

Pakistan will be led by Sarfraz Ahmed at the Cricket World Cup this year, despite his recent ICC ban.

Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed   -  Getty Images

Sarfraz Ahmed will remain as Pakistan captain for the World Cup, the country's cricket board has confirmed.

Sarfraz's role as skipper was in doubt after he was hit by a four-match ban from the ICC for breaching the body's anti-racism code during the recent ODI series against South Africa.

Read: Sarfraz accepts mistake, says he’s learnt a lesson

The 31-year-old was picked up on the stump microphone making remarks that could be construed as racist towards Proteas all-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo during the second of the five-match series.

He later took to Twitter to offer his "sincere apologies" to anyone he may have offended, insisting his words were simply an expression of his frustration and not directed at any individual, while the PCB noted its "utmost disappointment" over the sanction.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the PCB confirmed Sarfraz will retain the captaincy for the World Cup that takes place in England and Wales beginning in May.

Humbled and honoured

"I feel humbled and honoured to be placed in the same bracket as some of the most iconic and legendary cricketers who have previously captained Pakistan at World Cups," said Sarfraz, who led Pakistan to ICC Champions Trophy glory in 2017. 

"It is the dream of any international cricketer to play in a World Cup, but to be appointed captain in the biggest cricket spectacle on the planet is something that is extremely special.

"The reality is that the last few weeks have been extremely difficult for me as a person and professional. But I am delighted that the PCB has reassured its confidence and faith in me. It has boosted my confidence tremendously.

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"I am convinced we are in a good shape for the World Cup. We have top quality talent and match-winners with a committed support staff in the dressing room. 

"Everyone is geared up and keenly looking forward to returning to the country where we won the last major ICC tournament.

"In the lead up to the World Cup, Pakistan will play five ODIs each against Australia and England, which will also allow us the opportunity to further fine-tune our preparations. I am sure we'll give a good account of ourselves at the World Cup."

Committed to the team

PCB chairman Ehsan Mani added: "I was always clear in my mind that Sarfraz would be the captain. 

"I was keen to speak with him on the team's recent performances as part of the normal review and appraisal process, and, more importantly, about his own future plans as we all know he has undergone some tough times as a professional cricketer in the past few weeks.

"Sarfaraz has reiterated his commitment to the Pakistan cricket team as well as his availability and enthusiasm to captain the team at the World Cup."