Sarfraz Ahmed’s ‘racist’ sledge to Andile Phehlukwayo in the Durban ODI generated plenty of controversy. The storm generated on social media had increased pressure on Sarfraz, with the Pakistan Cricket Board condemning the statement and former players like Shoaib Akhtar lashing out at the Pakistan skipper who had helped the team win the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 by beating India in the final. However, before the start of the Centurion ODI, Sarfraz personally met Phehlukwayo and apologised and this made him an instant hero. On his official Twitter handle, Sarfraz wrote, “I apologised to Andile Phehlukwayo and he was gracious enough to accept my apology. I hope the people of South Africa also accept my apology.”
During the Durban ODI, Sarfraz muttered something in Urdu which was, “abbay kaale teri Ammi kahan bethi hoyi hain aaj, kya parhwa kay aaya hai aaj.” The literal translation is, "Hey black guy, where's your mother sitting today? What [prayer] have you got her to say for you today?" The comment did not go well with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) who have condemned the act. “The PCB expresses regret over the remark made by their captain Sarfaraz Ahmed and picked up by the stump mic during the second ODI against South Africa in Durban. The PCB neither endorses nor supports any comments that have the potential to cause offence, and firmly reiterates their zero-tolerance approach towards racist comments made; in whatever context,” said the Board in a statement. Pakistan lost the Durban ODI by five wickets with Phehlukwayo and Rassie van der Dussen scoring fifties.
This morning I apologised to Andile Phehlukwayo and he was gracious enough to accept my apology .and I hope the people of South Africa also accept my apology. pic.twitter.com/bco00dGumR— Sarfaraz Ahmed (@SarfarazA_54) January 25, 2019
The action off field may have calmed down, but the action on the field in the Centurion ODI saw Pakistan stumble again in the five-match ODI series. Pakistan made a bright start with Imam-ul-Haq scoring a magnificent century and he was ably assisted by Babar Azam who slammed 69. Mohammad Hafeez scored a quick 52 off 45 balls. Imad Wasim’s blazing 43 off 23 balls helped Pakistan reach 317/6. In response, Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla got South Africa off to a solid start as they stitched a 53-run opening partnership.
Amla (25) was snapped up by Hasan Ali and De Kock (33) was run-out to leave South Africa in some trouble but Reeza Hendricks counter-attacked in style with a fantastic 83 off 90 balls, a knock which included eight fours and two sixes. He was given good support by skipper Faf du Plessis who smashed 40 off 42 balls. However, when the 33rd over ended, the rain interruption forced the match to be called off. South Africa was ahead on the Duckworth-Lewis (DLS) method and they were declared winners by 13 runs. The fourth match begins in Johannesburg on Sunday and a win for South Africa will give them the series.
For Pakistan, who are trailing 1-2, they would want to level the series and build momentum in a year which as the ICC Cricket World Cup.