Khalid Latif and Sharjeel Khan (in pic) were provisionally suspended from PSL and sent back home to Pakistan after being suspected of spot-fixing. © Getty Images

Khalid Latif and Sharjeel Khan (in pic) were provisionally suspended from PSL and sent back home to Pakistan after being suspected of spot-fixing. © Getty Images

The Pakistan Super League 2017 was rocked on Friday (February 10) after Khalid Latif and Sharjeel Khan, two players from Islamabad United, were provisionally suspended while there are fears that names of some more players will come in the next few days.

Both Sharjeel and Latif were expelled from the rest of the tournament and sent back home to Pakistan after being suspected of spot-fixing.

Shaharyar Khan, the chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board, hinted that evidence was there and some more players could also be found involved.

Islamabad, the defending champions, got their campaign off to a winning start on the opening day of the tournament on Thursday by defeating Peshawar Zalmi by seven wickets on the Duckworth-Lewis method. Opening the innings, Sharjeel made one off four deliveries while Khalid Latif was not a part of the playing XI.

The Pakistan Cricket Board confirmed that the duo had been suspended under their Anti-Corruption Code as part of an ongoing probe into an international syndicate suspected of trying to ‘corrupt’ the PSL.

“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,” the PCB said in a press release.

Both Sharjeel and Latif are Pakistan internationals. Sharjeel, the 27-year-old left-hand batsman, made his Test debut in Australia last month, and has also appeared in 25 One-Day Internationals and 15 Twenty20 Internationals. Latif, 31, has played five ODIs and 13 T20Is. While his last ODI appearance was more than seven years back, he did play against West Indies in a T20I in Abu Dhabi last September in Pakistan’s international last outing in that format.

Wisden India has learnt that both players have confessed to being approached by members of a betting syndicate at the conclusion of Thursday night’s game, though they didn’t voluntarily report the approaches. “Their international careers are on the line,” a PCB official said, stating the obvious.

Wisden India has learnt that both players have confessed to being approached by members of a betting syndicate at the conclusion of Thursday night’s game, though they didn’t voluntarily report the approaches. “Their international careers are on the line,” an Islamabad franchise source said, stating the obvious.

Najam Sethi, the chairman of the PSL, 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 sport. 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 effective 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 sport.”

Islamabad United statement:
We are understandably disappointed at this development but emphasize on our commitment to a zero-tolerance policy towards any violations of the rules or stated guidelines.

We will be looking to find replacements for the squad as soon as possible. As per the PCB’s policy and guidelines, we will have no further comment on this issue.

Shaharyar added, “I must remind all players of their responsibilities in the fight against corruption. 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 an appropriate anti-corruption official as a matter of urgency.”

“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.”

The PCB and the ICC will not make any further comment in respect of ongoing investigation, the release added.

Sethi later told Wisden India that no one will be spared: “We have zero tolerance on corruption so no one involved in any corrupt activity will not be spared.”

Sources told Wisden India that Sharjeel was seen weeping on the flight as his blossoming international career is in danger.