KARACHI/LONDON: The spot fixing scandal of 2017 Pakistan Super League was exposed following work of an undercover British police officer who posed as a member of corrupt betting syndicate and got...
KARACHI/LONDON: The spot fixing scandal of 2017 Pakistan Super League was exposed following work of an undercover British police officer who posed as a member of corrupt betting syndicate and got himself connected with a suspected bookie Yousef Anwar and Pakistani Cricketer Nasir Jamshed.
The work by the police officer led to the uncovering of an attempted spot fixing in the Bangladesh Premier League 2016 and a successful spot fixing in the Pakistan Super League in 2017, a court in Manchester was told.
In both cases, an opening batsman in the Twenty20 tournaments had agreed to not score runs from the first two balls of an over in return for payment, Manchester Crown Court was told. Three individual, including former Pakistan cricketer Nasir Jamshed, were formally charged by National Crime Agency in UK for bribery.
Nasir Jamshed, 33, was also said to be the target of bribery in the Bangladesh “two dot ball” plan. He then allegedly turned perpetrator as a go-between who encouraged other players to spot-fix at a PSL fixture in Dubai.
Yousef Anwar, 36, and Mohammed Ijaz, 34, have pleaded guilty while Nasir Jamshed is the sole defendant on trial as he denies being part of the conspiracy to fix in the game between Islamabad United and Peshawar Zalmi on February 9 in Dubai. Opening the case on Wednesday, prosecutor Andrew Thomas QC said that two no-scoring balls in a match may not seem a great deal. “The fact the price for this fix was GBP30,000 shows just how significant it would be if tens and hundreds of thousands of pounds could be made through fraudulent bets,” he said.
He told the jury the case arose out of an investigation by the National Crime Agency and that the undercover operative was introduced to Yousef Anwar who was suspected of involvement in match-fixing in international cricket.
Their first meeting, according to the prosecutor, was held in November 2016 where Anwar claimed that he had six players working for him in the BPL. He also admitted of being involved in spot-fixing for 10 years.
At another meeting at the same hotel, Anwar told the officer the names of “his players” including Jamshed and fellow opening batsman Sharjeel Khan who both played for the Rangpur Riders in Bangladesh Premier League.
The court was further told that Nasir Jamshed later went on to agree to undertake a two dot ball fix in a match against Dhaka Dynamites but it was called off as he did not give all the pre-arranged signals.
In January 2017, Anwar met up with the undercover officer and Nasir Jamshed in Birmingham, the court was told, where Sharjeel Khan and a team-mate, Khalid Latif, were lined up for the next fix in the PSL.
Anwar flew out to Dubai, court was told, to confirm the arrangements with the two Islamabad United players and it was agreed Sharjeel Khan would carry out the two ball fix on February 9.
“It was a late night game. Shortly before midnight, Sharjeel Khan came out to the crease to play. The pre-agreed signals were given and if there was any doubt about it Yousef Anwar sent a message to the undercover officer to say ‘we’re on,” said Mr Thomas.
“Sure enough, at the start of the second over, Sharjeel Khan scored no runs off the first two balls. To a casual observer it might have just looked like someone out-of-form playing some fairly average strokes. But it followed on from the signals and Sharjeel Khan was doing precisely what he had promised to do,” he added.
Messages were sent between Anwar and Jamshed immediately before and after the fix took place which included discussions about payment, the court heard.
Following the game Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latif were questioned by the authorities and statements were taken and mobile phones were seized. And, according to the prosecutor, when Khalid Latif’s bag was searched, a number of colored grips -brought from the UK to Dubai by Anwar - were found.
The statement by prosecutor at Manchester court also validates the initial claims by PCB sources that they had prior information about pre-decided signals for the fix.
The Pakistan Cricket Board had immediately suspended Khalid Latif, Sharjeel Khan and Nasir Jamshed for their involvement in corruption. Sharjeel Khan, after denying the charge for two years, admitted earlier this year of his guild and offered an apology. His two and half years of total five year sentence were waived and he is now allowed to return to competitive cricket. Both Khalid and Nasir continue to deny the charges. The trial, estimated to last up to three weeks, continues.