KARACHI: Umar Akmal's flatter-to-deceive career took a massive blow on Thursday when the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) suspended the batsman pending an anti-corruption inquiry amid claims that he failed to report a spot-fixing approach.
However, in its official statement, the PCB did not get into the specifics of the breach committed by Akmal.
"The Pakistan Cricket Board today suspended Umar Akmal with immediate effect he cannot take part in any cricket-related activity pending the investigation being carried out by PCB's Anti-Corruption Unit," the Board said in a statement.
"As this is an ongoing investigation, the PCB will not make any further comments," it said.
PCB sources said that Akmal was suspended after the board's Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) became convinced that he had been in touch with a person named Faisal, who is suspected of having tried to spot-fix the opening match of Pakistan Super League.
"The ACU officials only decided to suspend Umar after keeping a close tab on his activities and confirming he had met with Faisal in Karachi and also been in touch with him," a source claimed.
He said the ACU officials suspected that an understanding had taken place between Quetta Gladiators and Islamabad United to spot-fix the opening match of PSL.
Earlier in the day, a top Board official, on conditions of anonymity, said the ACU had evidence of Akmal not reporting an approach to spot-fix in the Pakistan Super League (PSL), which starts on Thursday.
"The information is that Umar was made this offer few days back by a Pakistani and didn't report it immediately to the Anti-Corruption Unit as required under the rules," the source told PTI.
"Worse he met with the gentleman again and the ACU, while questioning Umar yesterday, showed him some evidence of the meeting and some messages," he said.
Akmal was suspended hours before his PSL team Quetta Gladiators was to take on Islamabad in the opening match of the 2020 edition on Thursday.
"Quetta Gladiators are allowed to apply for Umar Akmal's replacement in the HBL Pakistan Super League 2020," the PCB statement read.
He is the younger brother of former Pakistan wicketkeeper-batsman Kamran Akmal, who played 53 Tests, 58 T20s, 157 ODIs, and cousin of current captain Babar Azam.
The 29-year-old, who last played for Pakistan in October, has featured in 16 Tests, 121 ODIs and 84 T20s, scoring 1003, 3194 and 1690 runs respectively.
Akmal, who promised a lot after making a hundred in New Zealand on his Test debut, has failed to live up to the high expectations that came with some fine performances early in his career.
Constant run-ins with the authorities have also marred his stop-start career.
Earlier this month, Akmal had escaped a PCB ban for allegedly making crude remarks to a trainer during a fitness test at the National Cricket Academy in Lahore.
The suspension of Umar is similar to what happened at the onset of the PSL's third edition in Dubai when two Pakistan players, Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latif who were in the Islamabad United franchise, were suspended and sent home under the Anti-Corruption Code.
Later Sharjeel was banned for five years (half of it suspended) for breaching five clauses of the code and Latif was banned for 10 years for similar offences.
Sharjeel has now returned to cricket and is representing Karachi Kings in the PSL after completing his ban period and fulfilling all requirements of the PCB's rehabilitation program.