The Pakistan cricketer Shoaib Akhtar has had his suspension from the game lifted pending a final verdict.
Shoaib's ban overturned - for now
LAHORE// The Pakistan cricketer Shoaib Akhtar has had his suspension from the game lifted. The Lahore High Court lifted the ban on Friday pending a final decision in September. Shoaib was given a five-year ban suspension by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), which was then reduced to 18 months by tribunal that also fined him seven million rupees. "Shoaib is now free to play for his country," said his lawyer Abid Hasan Minto. "However, this is only an interim order. A final decision will be taken in September when the court reconvenes." The decision on the fine remains unaltered. The PCB lawyer Tafazzaul Rizvi is confident, however, that the original punishment will be upheld. He said: "Today was the last working day of the courts and the courts usual give relief to petitioners just before their summer vacation. "This is normal and it does not have a bearing on the final outcome." The five-year ban on Shoaib was imposed after the pace bowler publicly criticised the PCB's allocation of central contracts to players earlier this year. His own contract had been downgraded. Shoaib was already on two years' probation for hitting teammate Mohammad Asif in a dressing room altercation just before the Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa. Justice Aftab Farrukh led a three-man panel which then reduced the original ban to 18 months - a punishment which was handed down after consideration was given to the 32-year-old's age and fitness. "We felt Shoaib had three years more in international cricket," said Justice Farrukh at the time. "We have given him about half that time, while taking away the other half. He still has time to play for the country again."
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