KARACHI: Sheryar Ghani’s 71-run knock guided PIA to a successful five-wicket win in their Ramazan T20 Cup group A match against HBL, but not without stirring drama that involved an umpiring blunder.
Set a target of 181, PIA were reduced to 29 for three. However, skipper Shoaib Malik – who made 78 off 56 with nine boundaries – and Ghani brought PIA back into contention with a 118-run stand.
At one stage, 16 runs off nine balls were required when Kamran Hussain dismissed Ghani, but third umpire Sajid Afridi called a no-ball despite the foot being well behind the crease.
HBL skipper Younus Khan was livid and protested against the decision that brought a 10-minute halt. However, after dozens of replays, Sajid stuck to his decision and the match restarted. Ghani then rubbed salt on HBL’s wounds by smashing a six off the free hit which caused the bankers to lose heart as they then gave away easy runs and lost the tie.
“Everyone saw the mistakes made in the match,” said Younus. “It’s up to the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and the media experts to highlight this issue.”
Earlier, HBL had amassed 180 for two with Fahad Masood (64) and Hafiz Asad Baig (58) scoring half-centuries. PIA were awarded five runs during HBL’s batting as umpires Ahmed Shahab and Tahir Shah penalised Fahad for running over the pitch’s danger area.
Match referee Saadat Ali controversially awarded the man-of-the-match award to Fahad instead of Ghani as the PIA management and players reacted strongly to the decision.
“It’s appalling to see mistakes being accommodated this way,” former Test cricketer and PIA official Shoaib Mohammad told The Express Tribune. “How the award was not given to Ghani is beyond comprehension.”
HBL asked to remain calm
It has been learnt that PCB’s Director Domestic Cricket Zakir Khan has requested HBL to avoid raising hue.
“Zakir has asked us to remain calm over this matter but we can’t remain silent as it is about our department,” said an HBL official. “This decision could cost us dearly and we urge the PCB to conduct an inquiry into the matter.”
Meanwhile, a PCB domestic cricket official said they would take proper action against the umpire.
“We can’t forgive such blunders as the umpires have technology available at their disposal,” he said. “Sajid would have to give a proper explanation about his decision.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 10th, 2013.
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