News, Karachi, Pakistan
Friday, April 04, 2008
Empire strikes back!
PCB gets Shoaib Akhtar banned from high-profile IPL
By Khalid Hussain
PANCHKULA, India: Pakistan's cricket empire under the rule of Nasim
Ashraf may be going through a major turmoil but it still decided to
show its muscle by teaching banned pacer Shoaib Akhtar a lesson on
'The News' has learnt through reliable sources that the PCB used its
rapport with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to get
Shoaib disqualified from the billion-dollar Indian Premier League
(IPL) thus depriving him of the last lifeline he had as a professional
The Board had recently banned Shoaib for five years over misconduct, a
decision that will effectively end his international career and now
the IPL road block means the Rawalpindi Express has been completely
It was because of PCB's insistence that merely 24 hours after
announcing that the five-year ban on Shoaib will not affect his
appearance for the Shahrukh Khan-owned Kolkata Knightriders, the BCCI
top brass took a big u-turn on Thursday.
The IPL Governing Body's chairman Lalit Modi, who had earlier
announced that Shoaib's IPL participation was not in doubt as the PCB
had already issued a No Objection Certificate (NOC), made it clear
that the speedster will not be a part of the high-profile league
getting underway from April 18.
According to sources, Ashraf decided to get even with Shoaib after the
player alleged in a television interview that the PCB chairman
punished him after he (Shoaib) refused to give Ashraf a share of his
It was a huge allegation against Ashraf, a close aide of President
Pervez Musharraf, and it was no surprise when the PCB boss decided to
sue Shoaib, who had claimed that Ashraf also tried to exhort money
from several of his Pakistan teammates.
Sources said that before Shoaib's outburst, the PCB bosses had no
objection against the bowler's IPL participation. Instead they had
hoped that the player will quietly accept the five-year ban to keep
alive his IPL future.
But Shoaib was too disappointed at being banned that he decided
against keeping his mouth shut.
The legal notice served by Ashraf said that Shoaib's comments were
'utterly outrageous, fabricated, and manifestly baseless'. It added
that the comments were made 'solely to character assassinate
Ashraf has sought damages of Rs100 million for 'defaming him
personally' and another Rs100 million to the PCB for 'sullying the
name of the Board and the Pakistan team.'
The legal notice was an official response to Shoaib's allegations.
Behind the scenes, the PCB chief decided to hit where it was bound to
hit the controversial star the most -- the IPL.
It is an open secret that Ashraf enjoys friendly relations with the
BCCI top brass including its powerful president Sharad Power.
Ashraf openly sided with the IPL in its tussle with the breakaway
Indian Cricket League (ICL) going to the extent of influencing several
Pakistani cricketers to overlook ICL in favour of the BCCI's Twenty20
Sources said that after Ashraf's interference, the BCCI decided
against allowing Shoaib to play in the IPL.
Modi, the IPL boss, made it clear that Shoaib cannot feature in the
league unless the PCB lifts the five-year ban.
"A big discussion on Akhtar has taken place. The decision of the
Governing Council was unanimous and very simple that Akhtar has been
banned for a period of five years. And till the time he is cleared the
Governing Council will not be allowing Akhtar from playing in the
IPL," he said.
Now Shoaib's faint hopes of playing competitive cricket again rest on
an appeal he intends to file against the PCB ban. The 32-year-old is
also garnering support from within the political community of the
country and must be hoping that the current PCB set-up is suspended by
the new coalition government that has generally take a hard line
against Musharraf and his aides.