By Muhammad Najeeb, IANS,
Lahore : A Pakistani tribunal Sunday suspended the five-year ban on fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar for one month. The speedster can now play in the Indian Premier League (IPL) for Shah Rukh Khan’s Kolkata Knight Riders.
The three-man tribunal, headed by Justice (retd) Aftab Farrukh, heard the arguments for about one hour and decided to delay the ban, imposed by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), for one month clearing Shoaib to play for the IPL.
The tribunal will meet again June 4 for the next hearing.
Shoaib had appealed to the court for the suspension of the ban so that he could play for the IPL, Justice Farrukh told reporters after the announcement.
He said the tribunal has taken up the appeal on a closed day because of the urgency of the matter.
“Now all should understand that there is no ban on Shoaib for one month but it will be there June 4 when the tribunal will start his hearing,” he said.
Earlier this week, the tribunal allowed Shoaib to play in competitions outside Pakistan but upheld his five-year ban for playing in or for Pakistan at least until June.
Sources said PCB chief Nasim Ashraf had spoken personally to IPL chief Lalit Modi to allow the Pakistani fast bowler play in the lucrative Indian competition. But the IPL refused, arguing that a player banned from playing for his country would not be eligible to play in the league.
Shoaib’s legal team had asked for the ban to be suspended at the last hearing so that he could play in the IPL. But the tribunal, by specifically granting him permission to play outside Pakistan, thought there was no need to suspend the ban.
Shoaib was banned for five years in April by the PCB after he criticised the board and its policies at the turn of the year, breaching the players’ code of conduct.
The punishment took into account past alleged indiscretions and in particular the fact that he had been put on a two-year probation period after his last disciplinary scuffle – his tiff with Mohammad Asif before last year’s Twenty20 World Cup.
After the ban, Shoaib publicly accused the PCB chairman of financial misbehaviour, which led to Ashraf slapping a defamation lawsuit on the player. Shoaib has now also been asked to appear before a Lahore civil court May 16.
Shoaib refused to talk to the media and left the place minutes before the tribunal announced its decision.
Farrukh, a retired judge of Lahore High Court, had appointed a prominent lawyer Khwaja Sultan Ahmed as amicus curiae to help the tribunal handle the case. Ahmed during the Sunday hearing said the punishment by the PCB can be stayed for a month until the tribunal starts regular hearing.