Sarfraz Ahmed to captain Pakistan at World Cup despite recent ban for racial taunt

Sarfraz was banned for a racial taunt directed towards South Africa all-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo. (AFP)
Updated 05 February 2019
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Sarfraz Ahmed to captain Pakistan at World Cup despite recent ban for racial taunt

  • PCB chief Ehsan Mani backs underwire skipper to lead side for next few months.
  • Sarfraz has led Pakistan to 21 victories in 35 ODIs, including winning the Champions Trophy in 2017 in England.

LAHORE: Sarfraz Ahmed will remain captain of Pakistan for the Cricket World Cup despite being banned for a racial taunt last month.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has a policy of appointing captains series by series, but took the unusual step on Tuesday of backing Sarfraz to at least July as captain of the Test, one-day international, and Twenty20 teams.
“I was always clear in my mind that Sarfraz would be the captain (for the Cricket World Cup),” PCB chairman Ehsan Mani said beside Sarfraz at a news conference in Lahore.
“I was keen to speak with him on the team’s recent performances ... about his own future plans as we all know he has undergone some tough times as a professional cricketer in the past few weeks.”
There was speculation in the local media about keeping Sarfraz as the captain after he was banned for four matches by the ICC for racially taunting South Africa all-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo in an ODI two weeks ago in Durban.
Sarfraz, the wicketkeeper, was heard on a stump microphone saying in Urdu: “Hey black man, where is your mother sitting today? What (prayer) have you got her to say for you today?“
He apologized to Phehlukwayo both privately and publicly. Sarfraz added he will not stop talking behind the wickets, and Mani criticized the ICC for banning him, believing the apologies were enough.
When Mani was asked whether he was sending a message to the ICC by reappointing Sarfraz as captain, the chairman said: “I don’t want to go into politics, it’s nothing like that we wanted to send some sort of a message.”
Mani added: “Sarfraz has been an integral part of the Pakistan cricket team’s World Cup preparations and has proved to be a good strategist, leader and performer.”
Since being made captain two years ago, Sarfraz has led Pakistan to 21 victories in 35 ODIs, including winning the Champions Trophy in 2017 in England. Under Sarfraz’s leadership, Pakistan has risen in the ODI rankings from ninth to fifth.
Sarfraz said he was delighted the PCB showed its faith in him again.
“It is the dream of any international cricketer to play in a World Cup,” Sarfraz said. “But to be appointed captain in the biggest cricket spectacle on the planet is something that is extremely special.”
After being banned, Sarfraz returned home and Shoaib Malik was named as the stand-in captain for the last two one-dayers and the three-match T20 series. Pakistan lost the ODI series 3-2, and has lost the T20 series 2-0. The third and last match is on Wednesday.
Pakistan has limited-overs series against Australia and England in the lead-up to the Cricket World Cup in May in England and Wales.
Pakistan last won the Cricket World Cup in 1992 under Imran Khan, now the country’s prime minister.


Saudi weightlifter Mansour Al-Saleem wins record 3 Asian gold medals

Updated 39 min 54 sec ago
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Saudi weightlifter Mansour Al-Saleem wins record 3 Asian gold medals

  • Al-Saleem won three gold medals in the snatch, jerk and combination in the 55kg weight category
  • The competition in Ningbo, in China's eastern province of Zhejiang, will continue for the next 8 days

RIYADH: Saudi national Mansour Abdulrahim Al-Saleem won three gold medals in the snatch, jerk and combination, ranking the first in the 55 kg weight category, at the Asian Weightlifting Championships in China.

He lifted 122 kilograms to head the standings, with Kazakhstan’s Arli Chontey and Malaysia’s Azroy Hazalwafie following on 113kg and 112kg, respectively.

The clean and jerk discipline saw Al-Saleem again head the leaderboard on 140kg.

Hazalwafie lifted just four kilograms less in second, while Sri Lanka’s Dilanka Isuru Kumara was third on 135kg.

Al-Saleem’s efforts in both disciplines saw him convincingly clinch the overall title with a combined 262kg.

He finished ahead of Hazalwafie on 248kg, while Chontey placed third on 246kg.

The champion set a new achievement by winning the first Asian gold medal in weightlifting for the Kingdom.

The president of the Saudi Weightlifting Federation, Mohammed Al-Harbi, thanked King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, sports officials and the Saudi people for supporting the field, which led to “such a great achievement.”

Amidst an arena full of a host of Olympic and international champions, Saudi Arabia’s national anthem was played and the Kingdom’s flag was raised, as Al-Saleem praised the ability of Saudi sportsmen in all international and regional sports sectors.

A further eight days of competition will continue for the next 8 days in China's eastern city of Ningbo, in Zhejiang province. Medals will be won across 20 categories, 10 for men and 10 for women.