On a day of controversial developments, Shoaib Malik, captain of the Sialkot Stallions, was fined Rs10,000 [US$170 approx] for his decision to concede a game against the Karachi Zebras in the ongoing Twenty20 domestic competition. Chasing a target of 176, the Stallions moved to 151 for 3 at the end of the 16th over and were favourites to clinch the game with 25 needed in four overs. However, Malik and Shahid Siddiq mustered just 20 in the last four and the Stallions ended up losing by four runs.
Malik insisted this was done as a protest to bring attention to his team's game against the the Lahore Eagles, which was affected by a slow over-rate penalty imposed by the umpires. The result of the game ensured that the Zebras, and not the Eagles, would make it past the league round, but the Pakistan board stepped in to declare the match null and void, which meant that the Eagles advanced to the next stage, where they will be joined by the Karachi Dolphins and the Faisalabad Wolves.
In a further twist, the The News, a Pakistan based daily, reported that had Sialkot won, they would have reached the next stage of the competition thereby implying that Malik's move had backfired. Had Sialkot won, they would have been tied on points with Lahore, whose run-rate was significantly lower than Sialkot's - a point Malik seemed to be unaware of.
But he had more immediate problems to deal with: the Pakistan board set up an inquiry committee comprising Shafiq Ahmed, Haroon Rasheed and Asghar Haider, and Malik will face them on Saturday morning.
Malik was also at the receiving end of hostility from the secretary of the Karachi association. "What is the fault of our team?" Sirajul Islam Bukhari, the secretary, said. "The Board should ban or do whatever they want with Malik but why penalise us. We played wholeheartedly to win the match and who can say ... perhaps Sialkot also lost because our bowlers bowled well in the final overs."
On being asked by a commentator about why he lost the game, Malik was quoted by the Nation as having said, "Where were they [the critics] when our team lost on slow over-rate against Lahore Eagles. Our timing was going fine in that match and even umpires told us that we bowled in time but we were penalised and we lost the match."