What’s the story?
Pakistan’s latest T20I opening duo of Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latif have been provisionally suspended for allegedly involving in spot-fixing during the ongoing Pakistan Super League (PSL). Both players, who represent defending champions Islamabad United in the tournament, received their suspension under Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) Anti-Corruption Code.
A PCB release stated, “Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latif have been suspended and the rigorous and wide-ranging investigation by the PCB supported by the ICC will continue as part of collective efforts to protect the integrity of the sport.”
Sharjeel and Khalid have been sent back home and will miss the remainder of the tournament which is taking place in UAE. No replacements have been named yet.
It has been confirmed that the suspension was part of a probe looking into an international syndicate seeking to corrupt the tournament which kick started its second edition yesterday. Following an elaborate opening ceremony, the start of the season opener in Dubai was delayed by two hours due to technical issues.
Eventually, the opening game began and the Misbah-ul-Haq led Islamabad managed to stave off Peshawar Zalmi to seal a thrilling last-gasp victory. Sharjeel was dismissed for a 4-ball 1 while trying to play across the line. On the other hand, Latif did not feature in the playing eleven.
PSL Chairman Najam Sethi said, “It would not be appropriate to comment on the specifics of the case, however this investigation is a clear demonstration of our determination to drive corruption out of our sports. 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.”
“The investigation of the PCB anti-corruption unit backed by the ICC ACU has been effectively in dealing with this case to date and we will continue to work in the closest collaboration as the investigation proceeds. We are all absolutely committed to relentlessly pursuing anyone who would seek to damage the integrity of our sports.”
Sharjeel is a key component of Pakistan’s fortunes in the limited-overs formats. During the inaugural PSL last year, he smashed a 62-ball 117 against Peshawar in the third qualifier to propel Islamabad to the final.
Immediately, the left-hander was recalled to the Pakistan side in order to provide impetus from the top of the order. After putting in impressive performances in ODIs and T20Is, he made his Test debut in the recently completed series against Australia. Thus far, the opener has played 25 ODIs and 15 T20Is to go with his solitary Test cap.
One of the few members in the current Pakistani outfit to have played on home soil, Khalid made his international debut in 2008. After featuring intermittently, he faced the axe in 2010. However, the hard-hitter resurfaced during the 2016 World T20 and has since then formed a dangerous opening combination with Sharjeel for Pakistan’s T20I team.
PCB and ICC are understood to be working closely in the investigation. PCB Chairman Shahryar Khan reminded players of their respective responsibilities in the fight against corruption and urged them to report any suspicious approach to the relevant authorities.
Considering the high-profile names allegedly involved in the corruption scandal, the news comes across as a shocking development. Until the next course of the investigation gets underway, the suspension of the two players (Sharjeel in particular) could be a massive blow to Pakistan cricket.