“He’s taken responsibility for it,” says Proteas captain Faf du Plessis about the controversial comments made by Pakistan counterpart Sarfraz Ahmed. Photo: Deryck Foster/BackpagePix

CENTURION – Proteas captain Faf du Plessis said his side had forgiven Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed for the racial slurs he directed at Andile Phehlukwayo during the second One-Day International in Durban on Tuesday.

Speaking ahead of the third match of the series in Centurion on Friday, Du Plessis said the side were shocked when they first became aware of Sarfraz’s comments shortly after the match at Kingsmead, but that it was up to the International Cricket Council now have to deal with the issue.

The ICC was expected to make an announcement on the outcome of their inquiry – run by match referee Ranjan Madugalle – soon.

“We did forgive him because he said sorry,” Du Plessis said on Thursday.

“He’s taken responsibility for it. When you come to South Africa, you need to be very careful with making racial comments.

“We are a very gracious team, we forgive easily – maybe not so much when it’s Australia,” Du Plessis quipped.  

There was no word from the Pakistan camp on Thursday, with a team official saying they were still awaiting official word from the ICC about any possible sanctions Sarfraz could face.

Shaheen Shah Afridi, their 18-year-old fast bowler, understandably refused to answer questions about the affair, with a burly security official, acting as a liaison, saying Afridi was not allowed to answer questions related to the incident, and stopping local journalists from making enquiring about the touring team’s stance on the controversy.

Sarfraz took to Twitter late on Wednesday to issue his apology – although he did not specifically mention the Proteas team or Phehlukwayo.

“I wish to extend my sincere apologies to any person who may have taken offence from my expression of frustration, which was unfortunately caught by the stump mic during yesterday’s game against SA,” the Pakistan captain wrote.

“My words were not directed towards anyone in particular. I certainly had no intention of upsetting anyone.

“I did not even mean for my words to be heard, understood or communicated to the opposing team or the cricket fans.”

During the 37th over of the South African innings, after Phehlukwayo had hit a four off the inside edge of his bat, the stump mics picked up Sarfraz saying:

“Abey kaale, teri ammi aaj kahaan baitheen hain? Kya parwa ke aaye hai aaj?”

That translates to: “Hey black guy, where’s your mother sitting today? What (prayer) have you got her to say for you today?”

In a statement released late on Wednesday night, the Pakistan Cricket Board said it regretted the incident took place, although, like Sarfraz, no apology was made directly to Phehlukwayo, the South African team or even Cricket South Africa.

“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.

“Sarfaraz is one of the most respected cricketers in the world. However, captaining Pakistan is a massive honour and any hurtful remarks by any cricketer, let alone the captain, are not acceptable to the PCB.”

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