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Controversy plagues Zebras 'win' due to Stallions largesse
by Asif Sohail


Ground:Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore
Scorecard:Karachi Zebras v Sialkot Stallions
Player:Shadab Kabir, Shoaib Malik, TJ Carter
Event:ABN-AMRO Twenty-20 Cup 2004/05

LAHORE, 27 April 2005: Test star Shoaib Malik led Sialkot Stallions on Thursday but ended up not only making mockery of the 'game of gentlemen' but seemed to have insulted the fans and frustrated the sponsors by openly admitting he deliberately lost this crucial match of the ABN AMRO Twenty-20 Cup to Karachi Zebras at the Gaddafi Stadium.

At the end of the match hordes of disappointed fans were seen leaving the stadium to the anguish of all the organisers who had been doing so well in attracting crowds back to Pakistan domestic cricket.

Chasing a target of 176 the Stallions were maintaining a decent average of over 9 runs an over at the end of 16th over when their score was 151. They needed just another 25 runs in four overs. This was a very possible target, as they still had seven wickets in hand.

In the 17th over Shoaib Malik and Shahid Siddiq made 4 runs, six in the 18th over - 4 in the 19th over and finally six runs in the last over thus losing the match by 4 runs.

However, afterwards the match referee declared this controversial match nullified with zero points going to each team.

Earlier, Karachi Zebras won the toss and elected to bat first. They made 175 runs. Shadab Kabir was the highest scorer with 45 made off 41 balls. He hit a six and dispatched five fours. Khalid Latif played an aggressive innings of 33 off 20 balls in which he hit a six and six fours. Afsar Nawaz and Fahad Iqbal also contributed 30 and 29 respectively. Adeel Malik took 3 for 38

At the end, the spectators who had thronged to the stadium only to watch positive cricket were astonished by the way both batsmen ended the match. They disapproved of the match result and fumed their frustration by shouting 'fixed-match slogans' against the Stallions batsmen.

"This is mockery of cricket. This ain't cricket. This is an insult of the game, spectators and the sponsors," India’s former Test cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar who turned to cricket commentary after retirement, was heard saying in his spontaneous remarks on air after the match.

Sanjay's remarks went out all across the globe as he was commentating on an international satellite television channel. When this scribe contacted him he was unwilling to record his comments but when insisted upon, he said in his brief comment: "From the crowd reaction you could see that the people didn’t like what they saw in the stadium. The majority just walked away after the match." Former Test cricketer Shafqat Rana phoned this scribe immediately after the match and demanded of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to debar Sialkot Stallions team from taking part in any form of domestic cricket. "This is not cricket which is known as the gentleman’s game,” he protested. “The PCB should take stringent action against the shameful act of Shoaib Malik who brought the game into disrepute." Other comments heard all evening included remarks towards Shoaib Malik like, "Cricket has given you money fame and the people of this country love you but by throwing away a crucial match what example you have set for the youngsters?" Others felt Shoaib's action frustrated sponsors who had spent a colossal amount on organising this tournament. One ex-Test player maintained, "The sponsors spent money to provide good cricket to spectators but if that kind of cricket is going to be played then no sponsor would come forward and support the game."

Former captain of Pakistan cricket team Waqar Younis also disapproved of Shoaib Malik's act and said that he should be admonished over this offence. He said on television, “I think that he may be stopped playing any form of cricket for a year."

It may be worth noting that only a couple of months ago the PCB Chairman, had said that Shoaib Malik was a possible future captain.

After reviewing the result and actions of the Stallions skipper the Pakistan Cricket Board and Match Referee moved swiftly to fine Shoaib Malik Rs 10,000 for throwing the match to Karachi Zebras. Shoaib had admitted after the match during the presentations ceremony on television and in front of the spectators that he deliberately lost the match to the Zebras. When the Master of Ceremonies and television commentator asked him after reminding him that he was considered a potential captain, that yet he (Shoaib Malik) had to play a lot of cricket, how could he justify his act? "I am answerable to God," was the reply.

Soon after the match the match referee Khateeb Rizwan called Shaoib Malik into his room and announced the penalty. Meanwhile, both teams Sialkot Stallions and Karachi Zebras have been deprived of their points and Lahore Eagles have moved into the Triangular stage of the tournament.

However, Shoaib Malik bravely went around the stadium and admitted his mistake and asserted that he didn’t do it deliberately. “It was all heat of the moment and I apologise to the people over my act,” he said in his brief talk.

(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
Copyright © 2005 Asif Sohail)
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