Shahid Afridi, the Pakistan all-rounder who is no stranger to controversy, will miss the first of two Twenty20 matches against England in Dubai after being suspended after TV cameras caught him biting the ball during his side's two- wicket defeat to Australia in Perth yesterday.
Afridi, who was captaining the side, was seen putting the ball to his mouth and apparently biting down on the surface of the ball. In a hearing straight after the close, match referee Ranjan Madugalle imposed two suspension points on the all-rounder, equating to two T20 matches for his country. Afridi pleaded guilty to breaching article 2.2.9 of the International Cricket Council's Code Of Conduct after being charged with "changing the condition of the ball in breach of Law 42.3 of the Laws of Cricket" by on-filed umpires Asoka de Silva and Paul Reiffel.
Madugalle said: "I imposed the maximum penalty under the code to Shahid and reminded him of his responsibilities as a national captain which is to ensure that the match is played according to the laws of the game and in the spirit in which it is intended to be played. "Shahid, when pleading guilty, apologised and regretted his actions." Afridi, who captains the Pakistan side in Twenty20 cricket, will miss the match against Australia on February 5 as well as the first of two matches against England in Dubai on February 19 and 20.
Intikhab Alam, the Pakistan coach, had earlier admitted Afridi's transgression. "It's unacceptable," Alam told the media. "It shouldn't have happened but it happened and I feel sorry for him. "Being a captain you should be above everything but unfortunately it's happened." Afridi was previously banned for one Test and two ODIs for damaging the pitch with his boot during a Test match with England in 2005 after attention was diverted by an exploding gas canister.
Afridi's act overshadowed another fine performance from Australia's Ryan Harris. Less than a month after recuperating from a knee injury, the pace bowler was yesterday named man-of-the- series for his 13 wickets in the ensuing three games that came at an amazing strike-rate of 13.7. He followed up his five-wicket hauls in the last two matches with three more in Perth as Australia completed a 5-0 clean sweep, overhauling Pakistan's total of 212 with four balls to spare.
"A month ago I was doing rehab for my knee injury, so I am pretty surprised," he said after receiving his award. "It's pretty hard to break into this side, and I saw the first two matches, and thought, 'Gee, it's good to be out here'." A bizarre day, which saw Khalid Latif, the Pakistan fielder, wrestled to the ground by a spectator, ended with chief selector Iqbal Qasim resigning following the series whitewash.
"I am very disappointed, like millions of Pakistanis, over the manner in which the Pakistan team lost the Test series 3-0 and one-day series 5-0," said Qasim. "As I am responsible for the selection of the team, I quit my post." The PCB will also appoint a new captain to replace Mohammed Yousuf. firstname.lastname@example.org