Sarfaraz Ahmed says Shoaib Aktar’s remarks are a personal attack

Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed

KARACHI: Pakistani skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed has termed criticism by former fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar following his suspension as a personal attack.

Ahmed spoke with reporters following his return from South Africa after he was suspended for four matches by the International Cricket Council (ICC) for breaching the anti-racism code for his remarks against South Africa’s Andile Phehlukwayo.

“He [Shoaib Akhtar] is attacking me personally not criticising,” Sarafaz told reporters at the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi.

“I accepted my mistake and received the punishment. I want to thank PCB for handling this case and fulfilling requirements,” he added.

“I will improve myself and my performance in the future and I thank my supporters for their backing.”

Following the suspension, Akhtar said Sarfaraz Ahmed had gotten off easy. Akhtar had also been critical of Sarfaraz when the incident had taken place. “This [Sarafaz incident] is not acceptable as a Pakistani. In my opinion he [Sarfaraz] did this in the heat of the moment. I think he should apologize publically.”

During Pakistan’s second ODI against South Africa, Sarfaraz aimed a comment at Phehlukwayo which was deemed as racist and resulted in him being charged with an offence under the ICC’s anti-racism code.

Following Sarfaraz’s suspension, Shoaib Malik assumed responsibilities of captain. Under Malik, the team won the fourth ODI against Sri Lanka with the fifth scheduled for Wednesday.

Asked about PCB’s decision to recall Malik, Sarfraz said: “I don’t see anything in it as I was playing cricket for the last five months. I will rest and then play Pakistan Super League,”, referring to the league starting in the United Arab Emirates from February 14.