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Sarfraz to captain Pakistan at ICC World Cup, confirms Ehsan Mani

Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ehsan Mani has confirmed that Sarfraz Ahmed will lead Pakistan at the ICC Cricket World Cup in England this year.

Sarfraz was handed a four-match suspension by the International Cricket Council following his racist comments directed towards South Africa all-rounder Andile Phelukwayo in the second ODI at Durban.

The incident happened in the 37th over of South African innings in the second ODI at Kingsmead. Sarfraz was heard on the stump mics saying: "Abey kaalay, teri ammi aaj kahaan baitheen hain? Kya parhwa kay aaya hai aaj?".

This translates to: "Hey black guy, where's your mother sitting today? What prayer did you ask her to say for you today?"

The PCB had expressed their disappointment over Sarfraz’s suspension and also stated that they would be naming captains on a ‘series-to-series basis’.

Related: Sarfraz-Phehlukwayo incident: all you need to know

However, PCB chairman Ehsan Mani quashed this speculation on Tuesday, backing Sarfraz to lead Pakistan at the World Cup this year.

“I am happy to confirm that Sarfraz will remain Pakistan captain till the World Cup. I was always clear in my mind that Sarfraz would be the captain," said Mani in a press conference at Gaddafi Stadium.

“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.

“He led Pakistan to the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 title as well as to the top of the ICC Twenty20 International rankings. His achievements and contributions as a captain and as a valuable all-round cricketer cannot be undermined or overlooked because of the team’s recent Test results.”

Sarfraz, who has featured in 101 one-day internationals, said he was delighted as the PCB has shown confidence in his leadership skills.

“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.

“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.”