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
0

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.


Algeria ready for ‘match of a lifetime’ — Guedioura

Updated 19 July 2019
0

Algeria ready for ‘match of a lifetime’ — Guedioura

  • The Cup of Nations showpiece marks the climax not only of Algeria’s campaign on the field, but of their fans’ recent political campaign in the stands

CAIRO: Algeria midfielder Adlene Guedioura says Friday’s Africa Cup of Nations final against Senegal represents the “match of a lifetime” as his country bids to capture the title for a second time.

The Desert Foxes lifted their lone trophy on home soil in 1990 but coach Djamel Belmadi has reinvigorated a team that crashed out in the group stage two years ago and then flopped in World Cup qualifying.

“I think it’s the match of a lifetime for a lot of players in the team and for Algeria,” said Guedioura, who at 33 is the oldest member of the squad.

The Nottingham Forest journeyman has started five of six games in Egypt and insisted much of the credit for Algeria’s eye-catching performances must go to former national team midfielder Belmadi.

“He really knows the players and what he wants. The good thing is he knows how to get through to the players and how to listen,” said the 48-time international.

“If you don’t have a good cook you can’t have a good recipe. With that we realize we can be all together and it’s important to be a team.

“It’s important for Algeria because we used to have good individuals and now we feel very strong as a team and we want to achieve as a team.”

A Youcef Belaili goal earned Algeria a 1-0 victory over Senegal in the group stage, but Belmadi was quick to point out the statistics were heavily weighted in their opponents’ favor.

“Of course we can lose this match. We have an opponent that is number one in the FIFA rankings for Africa. They were at the World Cup. We were eliminated in the first round in 2017,” said Belmadi.

“If you get to the final, the aim is obviously to win it. The game in the group stage wasn’t decisive but now it is and that’s the difference.”

He added: “The most important is to stay concentrated and determined yet calm at the same time.”

Algeria will have the backing of an additional 4,800 fans for the final.

Some of them will arrive in Cairo on military planes organized by Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui.

The Cup of Nations showpiece marks the climax not only of Algeria’s campaign on the field, but of their fans’ recent political campaign in the stands.

In April, long-standing president Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned after weekly Friday protests against his expected candidacy for elections, and football fans have been heavily involved in demonstrations.

“We know what’s happening. The people we represent have been wonderful,” said Guedioura

“It’s magnificent what is happening. We’re focused on football but we want to win the final for the people,” he added.