Mixed build-up to Afghan Premier League

The inaugural Afghan Premier League (APL), to be played in Sharjah from October 5 to 21.

Mohammad Shahzad, one of the main draws of the league, reported an approach, during the Asia Cup, to rig matches during the IPL by an alleged Indian bookie.   -  AP

The inaugural Afghan Premier League (APL), to be played in Sharjah from October 5 to 21, is having exactly the opposite of an ideal build-up. First, Mohammad Shahzad, one of the main draws of the league, reported an approach, during the Asia Cup, to rig matches during the IPL by an alleged Indian bookie. Hours later, the chief of International Cricket Council's (ICC's) Alex Marshall issued a caution to tread carefully with mushrooming T20 and private leagues around the world.

Still, Basheer Stanikzai, the APL tournament director, is extremely confident about the league is ready to roll. “Nothing will happen to the Premier League. We have educated our players. It wasn't that serious, but we still advised him (Shahzad) to report it. It was suspicious, it wasn't a corrupt approach,” Stanikzai said.

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The fact that the league will be played in Sharjah – the stadium that has been red-flagged for international cricket despite hosting the most number of ODIs due to the presence of corrupt elements – also adds an additional element of suspicion over APL. But, Stanikzai dismisses it, citing all the due checks and balances have been in place. “It's not (just) about Sharjah. For this league, we have fortunate that we have services of ICC ACU along with anti-corruption officers,” he said.

While Stanikzai informed the five franchises will be named after five prominent provinces in Afghanistan, he struggled to name the names of the owners. “Most of them are from India and UAE. Of course, whoever is coming on board, we sent all the details to ICC Anti Corruption department and we also do double checks from our side, so due diligence is being taken care of,” he said.

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