Afridi was ruled out with a back injury, while a Covid-19 violation cost Naseem Shah his involvement in the league
Afridi will be replaced by left-arm spinner Asif Afridi, who hails from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. With Shahid Afridi’s absent, the Sultans lose out on one of the competition’s most experienced players. Shahid Afridi has participated in 50 PSL matches throughout his career, with Mohammad Nawaz the only spinner to have taken more wickets than his 44. He has also scored 465 runs at a strike rate in excess of 150 in a career that has also seen him play for Peshawar Zalmi and the Karachi Kings.
Quetta Gladiators fast bowler Naseem Shah will also miss the remainder of the league, after he was released following a breach of Covid-19 protocols. Shah arrived at the tournament hotel in Lahore with a negative Covid-19 test, but from a non-compliant PCR test. As a result, he will not travel to Abu Dhabi with the rest of the Quetta Gladiators contingent, ruling him out of the competition.
As per the Covid-19 protocols for the remaining PSL matches, all those traveling through chartered flights from Karachi and Lahore were directed to assemble at the team hotels in Karachi and Lahore on 24 May with negative reports from 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 into 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 the PSL.
Babar Hamid, the director and commercial head of PSL 6, said the decision had been taken been taken with a heavy heart, but emphasised that the league would make no compromises on health and safety this time around. “The PCB doesn’t take any pride in releasing a young fast bowler from its marquee event but if we will ignore this breach, then we will potentially put at risk the entire event,” he said. “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.”
Both the Sultans and the Gladiators have plenty of ground to make up when the league resumes, having struggled to race out of the blocks when the league initially launched in February. They have each won just one of the five matches they played, and currently both sit outside the top four.
Islamabad United have also included batsman Umar Amin and West Indian opener Brandon King, while Afghanistan’s Hazratullah Zazai pairs up with Peshawar Zalmi. The league is set to resume on June 5, with the final due to take place on June 20.