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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 December 2018

Sharjeel Khan slapped with five-year ban for spot-fixing in Pakistan Super League cricket

Left-handed opener, provisionally suspended along with fellow opener Khalid Latif in February, charged with role in fixing during match between Islamabad United and Peshawar Zalmi.

Sharjeel Khan, centre, had emerged as a key player for Pakistan in all three formats of the game. KM Chaudary / AP Photo
Sharjeel Khan, centre, had emerged as a key player for Pakistan in all three formats of the game. KM Chaudary / AP Photo

Pakistan's anti-corruption tribunal on Wednesday banned opener Sharjeel Khan for five years over a spot-fixing case that has rocked the Pakistan Super League, the latest scandal to taint the sport in the cricket-crazy country.

The 28-year-old dashing left-handed batsman had been provisionally suspended along with fellow opener Khalid Latif in February for violating the Pakistan Cricket Board's (PCB) anti-corruption code.

The charges centred on a match between Islamabad United and Peshawar Zalmi in Dubai that same month.

Off four balls, Sharjeel scored a single, failed to score off two deliveries and was then out.

Spot-fixing involves bets on the outcome of a particular passage of play, unlike match-fixing in which there is an attempt to prearrange the result.

Latif, who did not play in the game, was alleged to have orchestrated the deal.

Both were also charged for not reporting the matter to the PCB's anti-corruption unit, resulting in an additional six month suspension for Sharjeel.

"Sharjeel is banned for five years, which has two-and-a-half years suspended," said Asghat Haider, who headed the three-member tribunal.

"We hold that the participant [Sharjeel] has committed all offences as charged by the PCB under its code."

Former PCB head Tauqir Zia and former Pakistan captain Wasim Bari were the other members of the tribunal formed in March.

Under the PCB code players can appeal rulings before an independent arbitrator within 14 days of the decision.

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Four other players - Mohammed Irfan, Shahzaib Hasan, Nasir Jamshed and Mohammed Nawaz - were also included in the investigation on multiple charges.

Irfan and Nawaz admitted not reporting the bookmaker's offer. Irfan was banned for one year with six months suspended and fined one million rupees (nearly Dh35,000). Nawaz was banned for two months (one suspended) and fined 200,0000 rupees.

The tribunal is expected to rule on Khalid Latif's case next month.

Jamshed, who is being investigated by Britain's National Crime Agency, was said to be the "go-between" linking the players and the bookie.

His case and Hasan's is still under investigation by the tribunal.

Sharjeel's career blossomed last year when he cracked a hundred in the first edition of the Pakistan Super League. He then hit a blistering career-best 152 against Ireland and has played for Pakistan in all three formats.

The proceedings included testimony from Andrew Ephgrave, operations manager of Britain's National Crime Agency (NCA) and from Ronnie Flanagan, head of the International Cricket Council's (ICC) anti-corruption unit.

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The NCA was said to have passed the initial information on the fixing to the ICC, which later informed the PCB of the allegation.

Sharjeel's lawyer Shaigan Ijaz said they would appeal against the verdict. "We have reservations over the decision because the fixing could not be proved," Ijaz said.

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Pakistan has a history of such cases, with former captain Salim Malik and paceman Ata-ur-Rehman banned for life after a match-fixing inquiry in 2000.

Six top players - Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Mushtaq Ahmed, Saeed Ajmal, Akram Raza and Inzamam-ul-Haq - were also fined in the same case.

Another former captain Salman Butt and pace bowlers Mohammed Amir and Mohammed Asif were banned for five years and jailed in Britain in a spot-fixing case in 2010.

Former leg-spinner Danish Kaneria is serving a life ban over a 2009 spot-fixing case in English county cricket.

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