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Pakistan all-rounder Shoaib Malik believes that Sarfraz Ahmed has done an excellent job as captain and should lead the national team during the 2019 World Cup in England and Wales.
Sarfraz was in charge when Pakistan secured their first-ever Champions Trophy title in June last year.
However, during their recent tour of New Zealand, Pakistan were whitewashed 5-0 in the ODI series before bouncing back and winning the Twenty20 series 2-1, which saw them rise to the summit of the Twenty20 rankings.
While some people have criticised Sarfraz for being overly aggressive as captain, Malik defended the 30-year-old.
“Sarfraz has all the ingredients to lead the team and it will be a wise decision to name him skipper till 2019 World Cup,” Malik told Dawn. “Sarfraz is a fighter to the core and the team has jelled well under his leadership after the Champions Trophy triumph last year in England.”
Malik also played down all the speculation that there was a rift between Sarfraz and some of the players following the 5-0 loss to New Zealand.
“Yes I also hear these rumours of a rift between the players after we lost 5-0 against the Black Caps in the One-day series, but these reports are completely wrong,” the 36-year-old said. “This has become a trend in the media that whenever the team loses a series, these rumors surface which have negative impacts on the morale of the team.”
During the ODI series, Malik sustained a delayed concussion as he was struck on the head by a throw from New Zealand opener Colin Munro.
While the incident was nothing more than an accident, Malik admitted that he was spooked by it.
“Fortunately there was no internal bleeding,” he said. “Otherwise it could have been dangerous. But thanks to Allah, I survived and have recovered fully from that blow.”
With the 2019 World Cup fast approaching, Malik conceded that it will be his last World Cup, and added that he is eager to represent his country in the special event.
“I want to represent Pakistan in the World Cup before ending my career,” he said.
In regards to players who could go on and have a bright future, Malik said: “Players like Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Hassan Ali, Shadab Khan, Rumman Raees and Faheem Ashraf are a bunch of very talented and enthusiastic cricketers.
“If they keep working hard, they have the abilities to become match-winners.”