Controversy shrouds Twenty20 in Pakistan

Published: Friday, April 29, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Karachi:Pakistan's inaugural Twenty20 Cup ran into controversy on Thursday when Sialkot Stallions skipper Shoaib Malik conceded the match to Karachi Zebras in protest but the cricket board awarded semi-final spot to traditional rivals Lahore Eagles on an eventful day in Lahore.

Sialkot Stallions, chasing 176 for victory, were 151 for three after 16 overs when Shoaib Malik preferred to score just 20 runs from the last four overs to deliberately concede the match to Karachi Zebras.

Nevertheless, the celebrations of the Zebras, who had beaten Lahore Eagles in the league match, were short-lived when the Pakistan Cricket Board eliminated them and instead awarded the semi-final slot to Lahore Eagles.

"The PCB has shown its bias towards Lahore. If Sialkot Stallions has conceded the match, why should Karachi Zebras be penalised. We didn't ask the Stallions to lose," a senior Karachi cricket association official remarked.

Shoaib Malik, during the prize distribution ceremony, was very candid in saying that he had acted in protest to umpiring decisions. "I would not let Lahore Eagles qualify because they got the umpires and match referee's favours in the last match," Malik said.

According to Malik, Stallions had beaten Eagles fair and square by seven runs when the match referee and umpires penalised his team for slow over-rate and awarded 12 penalty runs to Eagles that helped the local team to win the match by three wickets.

The PCB top hierarchy was locked in the board room discussing what disciplinary action should be taken against Malik who is tipped as future captain.

"For the time being, we have decided to award the match to Lahore Eagles. Regarding Shoaib Malik, we will announce the decision after the meeting of the disciplinary committee," a PCB spokesman said.

This is not the first time that the Lahore-based PCB has favored a Lahore team or a local players or official.

Earlier this week, a local newspaper took a swipe at the cricket administrators for sending four Lahore-based coaches while ignoring the others to a coaching clinic in Hong Kong.

What is interesting is that in recent times the Board has also been completely ignoring coaches or umpires from Karachi for international and regional assignments or other coaching courses.

"You look at the recent postings and assignments done by the PCB in the last one year and its obvious that former players from Punjab are being preferred over the ones based in Karachi which is an unjust approach on part of the board," the newspaper said in its Wednesday's edition.

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