India's top court sacks BCCI chief
India's top court sacks BCCI chief
In a shock ruling, a panel of Supreme Court judges said Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) President Anurag Thakur and its No.2 Ajay Shirke must stand down immediately.
Thakur said he would respect the decision, while voicing bitterness at the court for siding with a retired judge who had been demanding the shake-up in the BCCI's governance.
"The Supreme Court passes an order directing the BCCI president and secretary to desist from any board functions from hereon," said the ruling.
The order comes after judges slapped restrictions on the BCCI's accounts last year over its failure to implement a series of reforms recommended by a panel headed by a former top judge, Rajendra Mal Lodha.
Cricket's massive popularity in India has helped the BCCI become by far the wealthiest of all of the sport's national boards, netting massive money from sponsorship and TV deals.
But it has also been embroiled in a series of scandals, including accusations of corruption and match-fixing that tarnished the Indian Premier League (IPL) -- the board's lucrative Twenty20 competition.
A corruption and match-fixing scandal in the sixth edition of the IPL in 2013 brought about the downfall of the board's then-president Narayanaswami Srinivasan after his son-in-law was accused of betting on matches.
The elevation of Thakur and Shirke had been seen as representing a break with the past.
But the board's reluctance to implement Lodha's recommendations, which included age limits and term limits on office-bearers, had triggered a number of legal battles.
The recent series against England was nearly cancelled on the eve of the first Test as a result of the funding restrictions.
In a video message posted on social media, Thakur indicated he would abide by the verdict while expressing bitterness at the decision.
"For me, it was not a personal battle. It was a battle for the autonomy of the sports body," said Thakur, who is a lawmaker for India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
"I respect the Supreme Court as any citizen should. Supreme Court judges feel that BCCI could do better under retired judges, I wish them all the best. I am sure Indian cricket will do well under their guidance."
Lodha said Thakur's removal was an inevitable consequence of the board's foot-dragging.
"One should understand that when the order of the Supreme Court, which is the highest court of the land, has come, it has to be obeyed by all. It is the law of the land. Nobody can escape it," Lodha told reporters.
The judges also ordered Thakur to explain why he allegedly lied on oath about seeking a letter from the International Cricket Council stating that Lodha's recommendations amounted to government interference. They threatened to charge him with perjury and contempt of court.
Thakur, who has until Jan. 19 to reply to the contempt notice, only took over as head of the BCCI in May 2016.
But he had been effectively running the board for much of the previous year as secretary as a result of the illnesses and absences of his superiors.
Thakur said the game's administration and development had been at "its very best" under his stewardship.
"India has the best cricket infrastructure, built and maintained by the state associations with the help of BCCI," he said. "India has more quality players than anywhere in the world."
India, the world's number one-ranked Test team, is in the middle of a busy season, with England due to play a one-day series later this month ahead of tours by Australia and Bangladesh.
Veteran commentator Ayaz Memon said the turmoil should not have an impact on the field but important issues would remain up in the air until a new leadership team is put in place.
"It's not just hosting of the IPL but there are broadcast rights and so many other things," he said.
Cricket writer Prem Panicker agreed that the players would be unaffected.
"They will go about their business as usual," he said.
Pakistan beat Afghanistan in last over finish
- Hashmatullah Shahidi missed out on a maiden hundred by a mere three runs but still steered Afghanistan to a challenging 257-6
DUBAI: Experienced batsman Shoaib Malik hit a six and a boundary to pull off a sensational last over three wicket win for Pakistan against a spirited Afghanistan in the Asia Cup in Abu Dhabi on Friday.
Malik pulled the second ball of the final over by paceman Aftab Alam over the deep square leg boundary and then whacked the next to deep fine leg for a boundary as Pakistan pulled off a nerve-wracking win in 49.3 overs at Sheikh Zayed Stadium.
Pakistan, cashing a stiff 258-run target, were home and dry to start the Super Four Stage with a much needed win and now face arch rivals India in Dubai on Sunday.
Hashmatullah Shahidi missed out on a maiden hundred by a mere three runs but still steered Afghanistan to a challenging 257-6.
Pakistan were off to a disastrous start when opener Fakhar Zaman was trapped leg-before off the sixth ball of the innings by spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman for nought.
Imam-ul-Haq scored a 104-ball 80 with five boundaries and a six while Babar Azam knocked an attractive 94-ball 66 with four boundaries and a six during their innings repairing the 154-run stand for the second wicket.
But both fell within the space of four runs as spinner Rashid Khan (3-46) brought Afghanistan back in the game with the asking rate getting stiffer, as Pakistan needed 42 off the final five overs.
Despite losing skipper Sarfraz Ahmed (eight), Asif Ali (seven) and Mohammad Nawaz (ten), Malik kept his cool to sop Afghanistan from posting their third straight win after beating Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in the first round.
Earlier, Shahidi hit three consecutive boundaries in the final over off Usman Shinwari, but failed to get to three figures off the last delivery after Afghanistan won the toss and batted.
Shahidi finished with a brilliantly-paced 118-ball 97 not out, and added 94 for the fourth wicket with his skipper Asghar Afghan, who smashed five sixes and two fours in his 56-ball 67.
But it was Shahidi who held one end against Pakistan’s bowling in an innings which featured seven boundaries after left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz (3-57) had put the brakes on Afghanistan’s early progress.
Shahidi had added 63 for the third wicket with Rahmat Shah who scored a measured 36.
The total is an improvement by Afghanistan after scoring 249 and 255 in their previous two wins against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
Pakistani fielders dropped four catches — three off debutant paceman Shaheen Shah Afridi who finished with 2-38.
India beat Bangladesh by seven wickets in Dubai and now meet Pakistan on Sunday, also in Dubai. Afghanistan and Bangladesh meet in Abu Dhabi on the same day.
Top two teams from the Super Four Stages will play the final in Dubai on September 28.