The match-fixing scandal that has rocked the Pakistan Super league (PSL) grew in proportion on Saturday with three more players, including Test pacer Mohammad Irfan, being questioned by the Cricket Board’s Anti-Corruption Unit.
Irfan, who has played four Tests for Pakistan, was questioned along with Zulfiqar Babar and Shahzaib Hasan but all the three have been cleared to carry on playing in the PSL for the time being.
A top official of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said that it would take another 10 to 15 days to complete the investigations against suspended Pakistani players, Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latif who were sent home from the Pakistan Super League on charges of meeting with people linked to a betting syndicate.
“As far as Sharjeel and Khalid are concerned enquiries will continue against them and this will take another week or two,” Najam Sethi, who heads the PSL, said.
Sources said Sharjeel and Khalid, who were both in the Islamabad United franchise in the PSL, are accused of holding meetings with people in Dubai including a foreigner who is linked to a betting syndicate. “The two are said to have discussed spot-fixing offers with these two people in the parking area of the team hotel,” the source said. “The charges against Sharjeel are serious because he apparently accepted a deal while Khalid was also into it,” he added.
He said a discarded Pakistan Test batsman is now also under the scanner for allegedly having asked Khalid and Sharjeel to meet with the suspicious people in Dubai. “This cricketer has also faced a enquiry in the Bangladesh premier league in the past.”
The source said the ACU of the Pakistan board had been tipped off by the ICC’s ACU about what was going on in the PSL. “The investigations are now being carried on by both units.”
A PCB official said the three other players had been questioned for lengthy periods after the matches on Friday but then cleared for the time being.
PCB Chairman, Shaharyar Khan, under fire now for having pushed for the return of the tainted Mohammad Aamir back into the national team and thus encouraging other players to dabble with suspicious characters, insisted Aamir was given relaxation and reprieve by the ICC. “Aamir was given relaxation by the ICC not by us. That is why he was allowed to resume playing cricket and considered for the national team,” Khan said.
The PCB chief, however, made it clear that the PCB was deeply hurt and angry with what had happened in the PSL. “Now we are going to show no leniency at all that is for sure because enough is enough we take very good care of our players and they do this. This latest incident has been very damaging for the PSL,” Khan said. “We have evidence against Sharjeel and Khalid and they will face proper investigations.”
Sharjeel’s father told the media in his hometown Hyderabad that his son had told him he had done nothing. “We believe in him but we also want to see what happens now. But I am very upset with the way the media has been reporting all this. The media has been irresponsible and already declared Sharjeel guilty,” Sohail Khan said.