Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latif provisionally suspended as part of investigation into “an organisation’s alleged attempts to corrupt the PSL”, writes Paul Radley.
PSL Day 2: Peshawar Zalmi beat Karachi Kings amid corruption probe against Islamabad United batsmen Sharjeel and Latif
Karachi Kings 118-7 (20 ov)
Peshawar Zalmi 119-3 (18.3 ov)
Peshawar won by 7 wickets
DUBAI // Less than a day after the five captains had signed an oath committing to fair play at an elaborate opening ceremony, the HBL Pakistan Super League was reeling as two Pakistan internationals were suspended for issues related to corruption.
The Islamabad United batsmen Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latif were provisionally suspended as part of an investigation into “an organisation’s alleged attempts to corrupt the PSL”.
“This is a clear demonstration of our determination to drive corruption out of our sport,” said Najam Sethi, the PSL chairman.
“We will not tolerate any form of corrupt activity and as this investigation proceeds, we will not hesitate to take further decisive action as appropriate.”
Most of the debate surrounding this second season of the PSL has related to the security concerns raised by staging the March 5 final in Lahore.
However, Sethi said anti-corruption measures have also been at the forefront of their planning.
“We were wary about anything like this and that’s why we were extra vigilant, and we had also beefed up our security and anti-corruption unit,” Sethi said.
“We got evidence that some wrongdoing was underway and then we took action. We are guarding against corruption and we will be ready to take action any time, any day against anyone who is going to damage PSL.”
Sharjeel’s fall is stark, considering he was one of the stars of the first PSL 12 months ago. He even relaunched his Pakistan international career thanks to the form he showed in helping Islamabad to the title, and earned a contract to play for the English county side Leicestershire.
“I must remind all players of their responsibilities in the fight against corruption,” said Shaharyar Khan, the Pakistan Cricket Board chairman.
“They must understand that if they even think they may have been the subject of a suspicious approach, it is their obligation under the PCB Anti-Corruption Code to report it to an appropriate official as a matter of urgency.”
■ Team guides: Who are the key men and young stars to watch?
■ Fixtures: When and where to watch each match in the UAE
Islamabad, who have won six PSL matches in a row after opening the 2017 tournament with a seven-wicket win over Peshawar Zalmi on Thursday, play Lahore Qalandars in Dubai on Saturday afternoon.
“We are understandably disappointed at this development but emphasise our commitment to a zero-tolerance policy towards any violations of the rules or stated guidelines,” the franchise said in a statement.
“We will be looking to find replacements for the squad as soon as possible. As per the PCB’s policy and guidelines, we will have no further comment on this issue.”
On the field, Peshawar avenged that opening late night loss to Islamabad as they beat Karachi Kings by seven wickets.
Karachi’s three new big-name recruits, Chris Gayle, Kumar Sangakkara and Babar Azam, managed just eight between them as the Kings fell to 12 for four.
Shoaib Malik and Ravi Bopara tried to repair the damage, as they shared an alliance of 59, but the target of 119 was not defendable.
Eoin Morgan scored 80 as Zalmi overcame a troubled start to their innings to earn a win with nine balls left.
In the first match of the Friday double-header, Quetta Gladiators defended a modest total of 136, as they beat Lahore Qalandars by eight runs. Rilee Rossouw top scored with 60 for last year’s runners up.
Follow us on Twitter @NatSportUAE
Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/TheNationalSport