Court defers Shoaib decision September 22, 2008

Shoaib free to play in domestic Twenty20

Cricinfo staff

Shoaib Akhtar: "I have just returned from fitness problems so it will take some time to gain full rhythm" © Getty Images

The Lahore High Court has deferred making a decision on whether Shoaib Akhtar has to pay a fine of Rs 7 million (approx US$105,000) to the Pakistan Cricket Board.

The hearing has now been set for October 3, although a PCB official said Shoaib would be allowed to play in the opening round of Pakistan's domestic Twenty20 tournament. "We never barred him from playing the domestic event," PCB chief operating officer Shafqat Naghmi told AFP.

The PCB had sought a ruling from the court on whether Shoaib was eligible to play domestic and international cricket without paying the fine. The board hit Shoaib, 33, with the punishment last month after he criticised the PCB over its failure to award him a central contract. He was initially banned by the PCB for five years, but the sentence was subsequently suspended by the court.

"Since Akhtar's lawyer was not in the court today, the judge has postponed the hearing," PCB lawyer Tafazzul Rizvi told reporters after the short hearing. "Early October was the earliest possible date that the judge could give."

Shoaib, who has just finished an unsuccessful two-match stint with Surrey in England, is due to turn out for Islamabad Leopards in Pakistan's domestic Twenty20 tournament, which begins in Lahore on October 4.

"I am disappointed at not getting the number of wickets I wished but I have just returned from fitness problems so it will take some time to gain full rhythm," he said. "I will play in the domestic Twenty20 event to prove my fitness and want to play for Pakistan as soon as possible."