Pakistan cricket authorities on Friday (March 17) charged and suspended Shahzaib Hasan in an on-going case over spot-fixing during the recently concluded Pakistan Super League.
The widening scandal, which has so far ensnared four other current or former national stars, has tainted the PSL, hailed as a step towards restoring international cricket in the militancy-plagued country after the final in Lahore passed without incident.
A guilty verdict for the players would prove disastrous for Pakistan cricket, which was last rocked by a match-fixing scandal in 2010 that deprived it of three top players including Mohammad Amir, who has since made a comeback.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said Hasan was charged on three counts during the PSL.
“Hasan is given notice of charge and provisionally suspended with immediate effect from participating in all forms of cricket. He has 14 days to respond to (the) charges,” said a PCB release.
The scandal surfaced on February 10 when Islamabad United players Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latif were suspended and expelled from the PSL on charges of receiving offers from a suspicious man linked to an international betting syndicate.
Mohammad Irfan, also an Islamabad United player, was also suspended on Tuesday for not reporting offers from bookmakers.
While Nasir Jamshed, the former Pakistan opener, was also provisionally suspended on charges of being a “go between” in the spot-fixing incident. Jamshed and another unnamed person were arrested in Britain last month but were bailed until April.
Chaudhry Nisar, the interior minister, said on Thursday the players could face jail terms.
Meanwhile, Sarfraz Ahmed, Pakistan’s limited-overs captain, said Sharjeel will be missed on the team’s tour of West Indies. They are set to fly out on Monday.
“Sharjeel was not only settled in the team but was exactly the one who we needed in opening slot,” said Sarfraz of the left-handed opener who has played one Test, 25 One-Day International and 15 T20 Internationals.
Sharjeel hit three consecutive half centuries in the ODI series in Australia earlier this year and was also contracted by Leicestershire to play in England in July. The county has now replaced him with New Zealand’s Luke Ronchi.
“Sharjeel was the kind of batsman who was matching the modern-day cricket. His ouster will affect [the team] but whoever comes in as replacement can also put up his best,” said Sarfraz.
Pakistan play the first of four T20Is in Barbados on March 26. The T20Is will be followed by three ODIs and as many Tests.