Pakistan Test opener Ahmed Shehzad has been fined 50 percent of match fee after his side Central Punjab was found guilty of ball tampering during its clash against Sindh in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said on Friday that Shehzad, who led Central Punjab against Sindh at Faisalabad, was found guilty of committing a Level 1 offence under Article 2.14, which relates to changing condition of the ball (non-identification) during a match.
The incident occurred during the 17th over of Sindh's first innings on Tuesday when during a normal inspection of the ball, on-field umpires Mohammad Asif and Zameer Ahmed found that the ball had been unfairly changed by a member of the fielding side.
The matter was reported by the umpires to the match referee who held a hearing after the match ended in a exciting draw on Thursday.
On the basis of a preliminary review, it was determined that Shehzad as captain had a case to answer for the contravention as the incident related to non-identification of the player and a Notice of Charge was issued to him under the PCB Code of Conduct.
"Ahmed pleaded not guilty to the charge, and, as such, a hearing took place after the match on Thursday, in which Ahmed was found guilty," PCB said in a press release.
Some players who took part in the match confided that ball tampering had taken place in the match by the Central Punjab bowlers quite a few times and the matter was brought to the notice of the umpires by Sindh captain Sarfaraz Ahmed.
Some cricket experts believe that the ball tampering incident coming at a time when Pakistan is touring Australia could give ammunition to the Australian media to create pressure on the Pakistani players.
Shehzad, who missed out on the Australian tour for both the T20 and Test series, later said in a statement: "We can agree to disagree in this incident as I maintain that the condition of the ball changed naturally due to the rough playing square and not artificially."
"I tried to convince the match officials, but they insisted and I accept and respect their decision."
"I would never indulge in such an act nor allow any of my team-mates to disrespect the game. My priority is to play hard, competitive and result-oriented cricket, and at the same time inspire the younger generation, which watches us play the game."
In an unrelated incident, Pakistan's Test captain Azhar Ali was handed an official reprimand in the match for engaging in a Level 1 offence described in Article 2.9.
The level 1 offence deals with throwing a ball at or near a player, support personnel, umpire, match referee or any other third person in an inappropriate and/or dangerous manner during a match.
Azhar is due to captain Pakistan in the Test series after the PCB removed Sarfaraz as captain from all three formats before the tour and the selectors also dropped him for poor form.