As rumours do rounds on social media about the reasons for Umar Akmal being sidelined in the last few matches of ongoing Pakistan Super League 2018, Lahore Qalandars have stepped in to prevent any controversy from marring their already doomed PSL 2018 campaign any further.
"Lahore Qalandars management refutes all rumours and news item appearing on social media regarding our star player Umar Akmal," reads a late Thursday night tweet sent out by the franchise.
The clarification by the Qalandars comes in the wake of reports on the grapevine that Umar is currently under investigation over some suspicious activities and that his team management might reveal some incriminating information about the player once PSL has concluded.
The Qalandars couldn't win any of their first six PSL 2018 matches. But once it became clear they would not be making the play-offs, the Qalandars notched three straight wins — all of which came in the absence of Umar.
ESPNcricinfo in an article on Friday attributed the talented but capricious player being left out of the squad to his poor form and alleged attitude problems.
Sources told DawnNewsTV that Umar has not even been travelling with the team to the stadium for the past three games. According to Cricinfo, the 27-year-old batsman has also been unhappy with Qalandars skipper Brendon McCullum talking to media about him.
"Umar is a complicated guy and we all know he has well-documented troubles throughout his career," McCullum told ESPNcricinfo. "But he is incredibly talented and he has done special things in his career and if his career has to finish now, I think it's fair to say that he has underachieved.
"I think it's a hard message and sometimes you need that, because as a cricketer you need to be honest with yourself and you need those who are prepared to be honest with you."
But Lahore's head coach Aqib Javed stressed a lackluster performance wasn't the only reason behind Umar being left out, saying: "We did not do it purely based on his performance."
"We haven't deserted him but we have allowed him to take a back seat and relax and think," Javed said. "He has a full career ahead of him and it's not the end of the road. He is a good player, and everyone has their ups and downs, but all you need is to show character and push yourself. He can do it and we expect him to do it."
Even if rumours about Umar being under the radar for illegal activities turn out to be false, all has not been well within the Qalandars camp.
According to sources, fielding and bowling coaches Atiq-uz-Zaman and Kabir Khan have also not been travelling with the team for their PSL matches. However, one Qalandars official rubbished such reports, saying the coaches were staying behind to help train their reserve players.
Also, in a likely sign of the frustration brewing inside the camp, Lahore teammates Sohail Khan and Yasir Shah were found in a childish exchange of tantrums in the penultimate over of their match against Quetta Gladiators past Wednesday.
Sohail, who was bowling in the 19th over of the Qalandars' innings failed to get the attention of Yasir, who was fielding at the boundary, to change his spot. And even though the Qalandars were headed towards a victory, Sohail in a fit of anger threw the ball with full force at Yasir.
Yasir, who narrowly escaped the ball, responded in kind with what appeared to be some choice words, and tossed the ball right back at Sohail.