DUBAI // Shahid Afridi was granted special dispensation to play in the UAE this weekend after he made a personal plea to the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman, Ijaz Butt. The all-rounder was one of seven players to be hit with severe sanctions by the board this month in the fall-out from a woeful tour of Australia, where Pakistan lost every match. In attempting to cure the prevailing climate of gloom, the PCB opted to ban Mohammed Yousuf and Younus Khan indefinitely from playing for the national team, while Afridi incurred a substantial fine.
Afridi had caused furore in the cricketing world after videos caught him biting a ball during a one-day international against Australia in Perth in January. He was banned for two T20 international games. In a bid to limit the damage to his bank account, Afridi refused to comment yesterday on whether he will appeal the penalty or whether or not he covets the captaincy for the forthcoming World Twenty20.
However, he did reveal that the harsh punishment had not stopped him approaching Butt over the opportunity to play in the Emirates Airline Twenty20. Several members of the extended training group, from which Pakistan will select their final World Twenty20 squad, had originally signed up to play in a Bangladeshi Twenty20 tournament later this month. While Yousuf had been given permission to play, all the others were ordered to focus their attention on preparing for the trip to the West Indies.
Yet Afridi was given release to play at The Sevens today. He said: "I called the chairman to ask. I had already committed to playing for Emirates, and it was not a problem. "I have played a lot of cricket in Dubai, and it was an honour for me to be asked to play for Emirates Airline. "I am here to enjoy my cricket. I enjoy playing wherever I get the chance in the world. If you are in good form there is no reason why you shouldn't." firstname.lastname@example.org