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May 20, 2017

‘Latif had bat grips given by bookie’


May 20, 2017

LAHORE: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Friday said it had seized bat grips given to Khalid Latif by a bookmaker which the Islamabad United opener was allegedly supposed to use to indicate he would participate in a spot-fix.

The 31-year-old batsman stands accused of attempting to spot-fix, accepting an offer by a bookmaker which he did not report, and luring other players into the conspiracy.

His case is currently being heard by a three-member tribunal convened to adjudicate on the scandal which emerged during the Pakistan Super League (PSL) in the United Arab Emirates in February and March.

Fast bowler Mohammad Irfan and spinner Mohammad Nawaz have already been banned for six months with six suspended, and one month with one suspended, respectively, and fined after they confessed to failing to report meetings with bookmakers.

Besides Latif, Sharjeel Khan, Shahzaib Hasan and Nasir Jamshed are also provisionally suspended on various charges and face bans ranging from five years to life if found guilty.

“One (piece) of ... evidence is that we seized the bat grips that (a) bookie had given and they were seized from Latif’s kit bag,” PCB lawyer Taffazul Rizvi told reporters.

Spot-fixing involves attempting to determine the outcome of a specific part of a match rather than the overall result, and is, therefore, harder to detect than match-fixing.

Latif did not feature in Islamabad United’s opening game of the league, against Peshawar Zalmi in Dubai on February 9 but is said to have passed on the grip to Sharjeel.

Sharjeel is alleged to have played two dot balls according to a pre-determined plan.

Rizvi added that Latif had met the bookmaker twice but failed to report the meeting.

On Thursday the head of International Cricket Council’s Anti-Corruption and Safety Unit Sir Ronnie Flanagan told the tribunal that Britain’s National Crime Agency had provided the initial tip-off about fixing attempts in the PSL.

Latif’s lawyer Badar Alam contested the neutrality of the tribunal on the grounds that one of its members was a former PCB chairman. —AFP

Our correspondent adds: Hot words were exchanged when Latif’s lawyer questioned the integrity of the members of the bench.

Badar claimed before journalists after the hearing that they faced severe misbehaviour during the day’s process. “Colonel Mohammad Azam keeps interrupting and brings a new question whenever Latif starts giving his point of view on the case,” he said.

“The PCB counsel even called our arguments blackmailing — they have tried to portray us as blackmailers,” he added.

Alam claimed that in a video presented to the tribunal, it was evident that Jamshed made several offers to Latif which he refused.

He maintained that their application presented to the tribunal was also not accepted.

He further stated that the accuser has to provide evidence or bring witnesses “but here the PCB wants the accused to bring witness or evidence”.

He also stated that Latif was introduced to the bookie by Sharjeel.

Rizvi, however, said that Latif’s lawyer created fuss during the proceeding and questioned the integrity of the tribunal members. “Latif’s lawyer repeatedly threatened the tribunal members,” he said.

Rizvi claimed once again that PCB had ample evidence against Latif. “Bat grips were confiscated from his kit bag which were given by the bookie and were also put on his bat.

“Unfortunately, the conduct of the defence counsel was very aggressive towards us and towards the tribunal and he was constantly threatening that they will walk out of the tribunal,” he added. “The tribunal head Justice Asghar, who was known for having the coolest temperament in the High Court, was also upset today. It is clear that they are trying to delay the matter and scandalise the proceeding,” said Rizvi.

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