Huge billboards have sprung up at vantage points in the city urging cricket lovers to welcome sacked Pakistan captain, Shahid Afridi when he returns from England tonight.
The billboards, put up by a hitherto unknown “Pakistan cricket lovers forum”, display a picture of Afridi in the green Pakistan kit and declare him as the “pride of Pakistan” and urge the people to reach the Karachi airport to welcome Afridi when he returns today at 8.00 PM.
“It is a big sign that Afridi has geared up himself up for a long, legal and otherwise battle with the board, in order to come out of the ongoing controversy with his reputation unharmed,” a former Pakistan captain said.
He pointed out that Afridi and his supporters wanted to ensure a big turn up at the airport to welcome him tonight to send a clear message to the board that he is not alone and remains hugely popular among the masses.
When he returned from the World Cup few months ago, a large number of people showed up at the airport to welcome him whole heartedly.
Afridi has been directed to appear before disciplinary committee of the board on June 8 in Lahore to respond to several charges of violating the player’s code of conduct in his central contract.
The all-rounder has been forced to return home from England after the board revoked the NOC’s issued to him, to play for English county Hampshire and despite a request from him to reconsider giving him permission, the PCB turned it down and, instead, asked him to face disciplinary proceedings.
The board has also cancelled his central contract and held all his payments, besides show causing him after Afridi announced his retirement from international cricket last Monday, in protest over the way the board had treated him.
Afridi had launched a scathing critical campaign against the board officials, a national selector and national team coach, Waqar Younis and manager, Intikhab Alam.
The all-rounder was sacked as captain of the one-day team after he returned from the West Indies following their 3-2 series win. He had complained of interference in his work by the other members of the team management.
The board responded by axing him as captain but retained him as player for the one-day series against Ireland where Misbah-ul-Haq led the one-day side. But Afridi withdrew from the series saying he had to be with his father who is under treatment in the United States.
The flamboyant all-rounder has already hired a law firm in Karachi to represent him in the disciplinary hearings.
The legal advisor of the board, Tafazzul Rizvi said that the disciplinary committee had 30-days to complete its proceedings and submit its report to the board.
“Both the board and Afridi has the right to appeal with the appellate tribunal if they are not satisfied with the findings of the disciplinary committee,” Rizvi said. Hindu