Tainting cricket: Two PSL players suspended over match-fixing

PCB takes action against Sharjeel Khan, Khalid Latif as part of probe into attempts to corrupt league

Our Correspondent February 11, 2017
Sharjeel Khan, Khalid Latif. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has suspended two Islamabad United batsmen for their alleged involvement in match-fixing during the ongoing T20 league whose second edition kicked off in Dubai on Thursday.

The board said in a statement on Friday that it has ‘provisionally’ suspended Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latif under its anti-corruption code as part of an ongoing investigation into an international syndicate which is believed to be attempting to corrupt the Pakistan Super League (PSL).

“Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latif have been suspended and a rigorous and wide-ranging investigation by the PCB supported by the ICC [International Cricket Council] will continue as part of collective efforts to protect the integrity of the sport,” it said.

Both the players have been sent back to Pakistan.

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Refusing to comment on the specifics of the case, PSL Chairman Najam Sethi said the investigation clearly demonstrated the PCB’s determination to drive graft out of the sport.

“We will not tolerate any form of corrupt activity and as this investigation proceeds we will not hesitate to take further decisive action,” he added.

Sethi said investigation of the PCB Anti-Corruption Unit backed by the ICC’s own unit had been effective in dealing with the case to date, adding that they would continue to work in close collaboration as the investigation proceeded.

He said the anti-corruption unit knew beforehand that this year’s league would attract such ‘crooks’ due to the success of the first edition.

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“We had some credible information that things were not right. Last year, this was a toddler’s league and not many bookies were interested in it. But this time around the PSL is bigger so these bookies are interested. They are covering their tracks and making a run for it as we speak,” Sethi said.

PCB Chairman Shaharyar Khan also commented on the development, saying that players are duty bound to inform the authorities regarding any suspicious approach.

“I must remind all the players of their responsibilities in the fight against corruption,” he said. “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 the authorities.

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“Under no circumstances will the PCB condone actions of a few individuals to bring disrepute to the game of cricket or taint the image of Pakistan,” he added.

According to sources, the two players have confessed to meeting bookies.

The Islamabad United – which is defending the title won its first match against Peshawar Zelmi – expressed its dismay over the incident. However, the team’s spokesperson said the franchise was following a policy of zero-tolerance against violation of guidelines and rules.

He said the team would soon find replacements for the two players.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 11th, 2017.