Pakistan court suspends Akhtar cricket ban

Published: Friday, July 4, 2008, 16:59 [IST]
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A Pakistani court on Friday suspended an 18-month ban imposed on paceman Shoaib Akhtar by the country's cricket authorities for indiscipline.

A judge at Lahore High Court ruled that the 32-year-old Akhtar should be allowed to play cricket until his appeal against the ban is heard, most likely in September.

Akhtar lodged an appeal with the court on Tuesday against an 18-month ban for indiscipline. The ban was originally for five years but was reduced last month.

"While accepting his application for interim relief (until the appeal is heard), the court has allowed Shoaib Akhtar to play cricket," Judge Zahid Hussain told the court in the eastern city.

"The petition will be heard after the summer vacation," which ends in September, he said.

Akhtar welcomed the decision and said he wanted to play in the Champions Trophy, which Pakistan hosts in September this year.

"I am relieved," Akhtar told AFP after the hearing.

"I am keeping fit and I'm going to England and try to play some county or league matches there and get in shape for the Champions Trophy."

Akhtar added that he wanted to clear his name.

"I owe my name and fame to Pakistan, so I will never defame my country. I want to win the Champions Trophy for my country and for that I need everyone's support."

A Pakistan Cricket Board disciplinary committee banned Akhtar for five years in April for several incidents of indiscipline and for violating the conditions of a two-year probation period imposed for hitting a teammate with a bat.

The ban followed Akhtar's public criticism of the PCB after he was dropped from a list of 15 players who were given central contracts in January.

However, an appellate committee reduced the suspension to 18 months and imposed a fine of seven million rupees (115,000 dollars) in June.

In October last year, Akhtar was banned for 13 matches and fined 3.4 million rupees for hitting partner Mohammad Asif with a bat just days before the Twenty20 World Cup in September in South Africa.

The Pakistan Cricket Board confirmed Friday's decision.

"Akhtar's appeal to stay the ban was upheld, which means he is temporarily allowed to play until the petition is heard, but he will have to give the fine," Pakistan Cricket Board lawyer Taffazul Rizvi told AFP.

Chief selector Salahuddin Ahmed said Akhtar's place in the Pakistan team "will depend on his fitness."

Pakistan, playing Bangladesh in their last Asia Cup league match here on Friday, have no assignments until their three-match home series against New Zealand in August.

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