Abu Dhabi: Sarfraz Ahmad has backed the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to help stamp out corruption amid latest spot-fixing claims — this time allegedly involving top cricketers from England, Pakistan and Australia, according to an Al Jazeera expose.
The Pakistan skipper was not afraid to face questions on the subject as his side prepare to take on Australia in a three-match T20 series starting at the Shaikh Zayed Stadium on Wednesday.
Sarfraz was very clear about his views on the issue and the stand that Pakistan cricket has been taking with regards to anti-corruption.
“I have said it before and will say it again, it is the responsibility of the Pakistan Cricket Board and they are taking the lead as well,” he said. “We are taking lectures on anti-corruption as well.”
Sarfraz added that he has attended anti-corruption briefing at all levels of his career.
“We boys know everything and despite that, if we get involved in any such wrong practices, then they themselves are to be blamed,” he said. “They are responsible for what happens.”
Sarfraz defended players such as Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Umar Akmal whose pictures with the alleged match-fixer Aneel Munawar — taken during the T20 World Cup in 2012 — were included in a programme by the broadcaster.
“Whenever someone comes to take a picture you don’t know who he is and what his background is,” said Sarfraz. “If we don’t oblige to anyone then people will say they are neglecting fans. So you click a picture with someone unknown and then he is found in some wrong doings. I think in such cases, it is not the player’s fault and he should not be blamed.”
Sarfraz will be missing the services of his experienced and in-form batsman Shoaib Malik, who is only arriving in the UAE on Wednesday.
Malik chose to be with his tennis star wife Sania Mirza as they are expecting the arrival of their child and was not available for selection for the first T20.
“Shoaib will not be available for selection because it will be difficult for him to come and play straight away after the hospital and stuff. He is joining the team tomorrow but we have picked the best possible playing XI,” said Sarfraz.
The skipper went on to rate the Australians as a strong outfit but felt that his team will be able to switch into the T20 mode straight away and keep their No. 1 ranking intact.
“This series is very important for us,” said Sarfraz. “They have always been a strong T20 side and we will try our level best to play good cricket. We have been giving good performances in the last one year in T20 cricket and we will try to play well to keep our No 1 ranking. We managed to get three to four days’ gap after the Test series and Inshallah! we will immediately come into the T20 mode.”
Sarfraz also pinpointed Chris Lynn as the key to Australian batting.
“Though they don’t have some senior players but Lynn is back and then there is Mitchell Marsh and Ben McDermott, who is playing really well in the Big Bash,” he said. “It will be a good contest.”
Australian skipper Aaron Finch, speaking about the team’s chances, said: “Pakistan played very well against us in July. We got the better of them in the first game but they battled back in the last two. They are World No. 1 at the moment and they are world No. 1 for a reason. They played some great cricket in the last two years in this format so I think it will be a great contest.”
Finch, whose team defeated UAE comprehensively by eight wickets on Monday, went on to reveal that his team are in great shape and very much ready for the challenge.
“Everyone is tracking in the right direction,” he said. “Obviously, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Marsh and (Peter) Siddle missed the game after being involved in the Test series. I think everyone is good as what we need them to be and if selected, I’m sure they will give do a great job.”
The action starts at 8pm.
Pakistan playing XI: Sarfraz Ahmad (captain), Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Babar Azam, Asif Ali, Hussain Talat, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Hassan Ali, Imad Wasim, Faheem Ashraf.
Australia Squad: Aaron Finch (captain), Mitchell Marsh, Alex Carey, Ashton Agar, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Chris Lynn, Nathan Lyon, Glenn Maxwell, Ben McDermott, Darcy Short, Billy Stanlake, Mitch Starc, Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa.