LAHORE: Former Pakistan captain and belligerent batsman Shahid Afridi was on Monday ruled out of Abu Dhabi’s leg of HBL Pakistan Super League (PSL) due to a back injury.

The veteran all-rounder, who represents Multan Sultans, has been replaced with left-arm spinner Asif Afridi of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The 41-year-old Afridi, who played his last T20 International in 2018 when he represented the ICC World XI in a match against West Indies at Lord’s, has continued his career by featuring in different T20 leagues.

“The former Pakistan captain [Shahid Afridi] was training in Karachi for the upcoming HBL PSL 6 matches when he experienced pain in his lower back following which he was examined by a doctor who has advised him complete rest,” a PCB press release stated on Monday.

Earlier commenting on the development, Afridi said: “While training for the remainder of the HBL PSL 6, I felt lower back pain and had to consult a doctor. Unfortunately, I have been advised rest and can no longer accompany my team Multan Sultans for the Abu Dhabi leg.

“I am disappointed that I would be sitting out of the tournament, but my best wishes, support and prayers are with the team to take the trophy.”

Meanwhile, the PCB further said, “Islamabad United have roped in left-handed batsman Umar Amin and West Indies opener Brandon King. The latest additions mean they now have a complete 20-player squad.”

Peshawar Zalmi have added Afghanistan’s Hazratullah Zazai with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Sameen Gul and Khalid Usman as reserve players in their squad.

NASEEM SHAH OUT AFTER PROTOCOLS BREACH

Also on Monday, the PCB said Quetta Gladiators’ fast bowler Naseem Shah will not participate in the HBL PSL 6 as the player has been released from isolation in Lahore after he breached the protocols for departure from Pakistan by arriving at the designated hotel with a non-compliant RT-PCR test result.

According to a PCB announcement, the right-arm bowler will not be travelling to Abu Dhabi on May 26 and is now out of the competition.

“As per the Covid-19 protocols for the remaining HBL PSL 6 matches, all those traveling through chartered flights from Karachi and Lahore were directed to assemble at the team hotels in Karachi and Lahore on May 24 with negative reports of PCR tests taken not more than 48 hours prior to arrival at the hotel.

“However, Naseem presented a PCR report from a test that was conducted on May 18. Upon submission of the report, he was placed in isolation on a separate floor before being released following a decision made by a three-member panel on the recommendation of the independent medical advisory panel for PSL,” the PCB added.

In March this year, it may be mentioned here, PSL 6 was hit by Covid-19 after seven positive cases of players and officials emerged. Perhaps keeping this in view, the PCB has now made stringent efforts for keeping the league Covid-free in Abu Dhabi.

Speaking on the matter, director commercial and head of HBL PSL 6 Babar Hamid said: “The PCB doesn’t take any pride in releasing a young fast bowler from its marquee event but if we ignore this breach, we will potentially put at risk the entire event. We appreciate Quetta Gladiators for accepting this decision as it confirms we are all aligned to strictly following and implementing the protocols.

“This decision will also send out a loud and clear message to all involved in the remaining matches that the PCB will not compromise on any violations and will expel the player or player support personnel irrespective of his stature and standing in the game if they are found to be flouting the prescribed protocols or regulations,” he added.

“All participating in the tournament must understand that these protocols have been put in place for the health and safety of all involved as well as for the integrity and credibility of the event and the PCB. As such, the onus is on them to ensure these are followed in its letter and spirit and without exception.”

The PCB is yet to announce the schedule of the remaining 20 matches of HBL PSL 6, which most probably start from June 5 to end on June 20.

The Board in this regard is still waiting for the issuance of visas to the players and the officials, especially those who belong to India and South Africa. The confirmed arrival programme of every player and official is awaited before the schedule of the matches is announced.

Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2021

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