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PCB backs Sarfaraz to captain Pakistan in 2019 World Cup

The board made the announcement on Tuesday with the man himself hoping to return to international cricket in March

Umar Farooq
Umar Farooq
Ehsan Mani, chairman of the PCB, and Sarfraz Ahmed at a press conference, Lahore, February 5, 2019


Sarfaraz Ahmed may have recently served out an ICC-imposed ban, but the PCB stated in emphatic terms that he will be captain when Pakistan play the World Cup in May 2019.
The 31-year old was suspended for four matches over some of his on-field remarks against South Africa in January but the the PCB remained firmly on his side even as the episode unfolded. Its president Ehsan Mani even said, "Somewhere common sense was overruled by bureaucratic process."
Now, the board has made a fresh show of its support by naming him captain for the 2019 World Cup three months before the event.
"Sarfaraz has been an integral part of the Pakistan's World Cup preparations. He has proved to be a good strategist, leader and performer," Mani said on Tuesday. "He led Pakistan to the Champions Trophy 2017 title as well as to top of the ICC T20I rankings."
Mani also confirmed that Sarfaraz's position as captain will only be re-evaluated after the World Cup.
"There were a lot of speculations around captaincy in media but I can confirm that he is our captain and he will remain for the upcoming series against Australia until World Cup," Mani said. "I had no doubt about it but it's unfortunate the uncertainty is making rounds over and over in media. We are not concerned at all about what is being discussed around.
"So nobody should doubt him as captain. He is captain and will remain captain until next decision is taken. Yes, questions have been raised about the performances but in a bigger picture results have been good so far. I spoke to selectors, coaches, director operations and the entire board is behind him."
Mani, formerly the ICC chairman, recalled Sarfaraz's captaincy during the Under-19 World Cup in 2006. "I first met Sarfaraz 13 years ago during ICC Under-19 World Cup in Colombo and his leadership quality was great," Mani said. "Pakistan believed to have lost that game after scoring 109 against India but the way Sarfaraz led the side and got India out for 71 runs was outstanding. I couldn't forgot that match and even wrote a letter to the then-chairman Shahryar Khan praising Sarfaraz's leadership. There is no doubt at all in Sarafarz's contribution to Pakistan. He has led at from Under-19 to Karachi, for PIA and then Pakistan."
Pakistan are scheduled to play 10 ODIs ahead of World Cup in May - five against Australia in UAE in March followed by five against England.
Sarfaraz, who is currently preparing for the Pakistan Super League in February, said that Mani's support has lifted his spirits. "I thank PCB for trusting me," Sarfaraz said. "This support has always been there and I'm thankful for the reassurance. It is a big honour for me to lead Pakistan at World Cup and stand among those who did in past people like Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Shahid Afridi, Misbah-ul-Haq."
"Pressure is always there during captaincy. But with the chairman and board's support I feel motivated more than ever. I now would like to transfer the same to the team for the upcoming Australia series and World Cup."

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent