Shoaib Akhtar cleared to play in IPL

Published: Sunday, May 4, 2008, 3:35 [IST]
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Lahore: A Pakistani appeals tribunal on Sunday suspended a five-year ban on fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar for one month to allow him to compete in Indian Premier League.

The tribunal will reconvene on June 4. The Pakistan board has also granted Shoaib a No Objection Certificate to feature in the IPL.

IPL commissioner Lalit Modi confirmed that Shoaib will play in the tournament. "We look forward to Shoaib playing for us," Modi said. "I am going to call him immediately and invite him to come to Kolkata tonight or tomorrow morning, " Modi was quotted as saying by a website.

The IPL authorities had refused to allow the fast bowler to play in the league despite the tribunal's decision earlier this week to allow him play outside Pakistan while retaining the ban on him.

Shoaib on Saturday made a fresh application, praying to the tribunal to allow him play in the IPL and earn his livelihood. He said the tribunal should suspend the ban temporarily as it would take time to come to a final decision in the case, by which the IPL would be over.

The 32-year-old paceman received the ban in April for a series of discipline violations, including his public criticism of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) after he was not offered a central contract.

"We have suspended the five-year ban for one month," tribunal head Justice Farrukh Aftab told reporters, adding that Akhtar's appeal of the ban will be heard June 4.

The tribunal had temporarily upheld the ban last week but cleared him to play cricket outside the country. The Board of Control for Cricket in India, however, would not allow Akhtar to play until the ban was overturned.

"We had to suspend the ban because it was stopping him from playing in IPL and it would have been tantamount to additional punishment on Akhtar," Aftab said.

Two other tribunal members -- former Test cricketer Haseeb Ahsan and businessman Salman Taseer -- did not attend Sunday's hearing.

"I got the consent of Taseer on telephone, but Ahsan could not be contacted," said Aftab, who was assisted by senior advocate Khawaja Sultan.

The fiery cricketer, who has a history of discipline problems and injuries, struck out at the PCB in January after he did not make the list of 15 contracted players.

Akhtar was already on two years' probation for hitting teammate Mohammad Asif with a bat a few days before the Twenty20 World Championship in South Africa last September.

Akhtar has accused PCB chairman Nasim Ashraf of demanding a commission from his contract for the Indian event, saying his refusal led to the five-year ban.

Ashraf has responded by suing Akhtar for alleged defamation and has demanded 200 million rupees (three million dollars) in compensation. The legal proceedings began in a civil court on Saturday, and the court has summoned Akhtar to answer the charges on May 16.


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