Quetta Gladiators have replaced Umar Akmal with Anwar Ali after the former was suspended under Article 4.7.1 of the anti-corruption code of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).
PCB didn’t let the press know why Akmal was suspended, but the charges that have been imposed on the player suggest a major offence.
Akmal was a very important member of the Quetta Gladiators squad and his suspension was a huge blow to them; however, the reigning champions still managed to win their opening match of PSL 5 against the Islamabad United yesterday.
PCB, while suspending Akmal, had also allowed the Gladiators to look for the player’s replacement and the franchise opted for Anwar Ali whose name was approved by the technical committee of the PSL yesterday.
It’s a slightly surprising call by the Gladiators as Anwar is an all-rounder and not a like-for-like replacement for Akmal who is a specialist batsman.
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Anwar has, so far, represented the Gladiators in all the four seasons of the PSL, but the franchise didn’t pick him in the players’ draft ahead of PSL 5. The 32-year old had signed up in the silver category of the draft.
Anwar is a seam bowler who bats in the lower middle-order. He will probably be the back-up for Ben Cutting who seems to be the first choice all-rounder for the Gladiators coming into this season.
One of the reasons why the Gladiators might have decided not to replace Akmal with a specialist batsman is because the 21-year old Azam Khan, who played in Akmal’s place yesterday, scored a match-winning half-century against Islamabad United.
The Gladiators team management is probably backing Azam to play most of the games this season and bat at no. 5, where Akmal would have batted if he was available.
Azam happens to be the son of the former Pakistan wicket-keeper Moin Khan who is also the coach of the Quetta Gladiators.Published 21 Feb 2020, 12:59 IST