Shoaib Akhtar's five-year ban has been reduced to 18 months by the PCB-appointed appellate tribunal, but he will have to pay a fine of Rs 7 million (approx US$105,000). The Pakistan board had, on April 1, banned him on various disciplinary grounds.
"The tribunal has taken the decision [to reduce Shoaib's ban] with a clear conscience and under no pressure from either the board or anyone else," Justice (retd) Aftab Farrukh, the head of the three-man tribunal, said in Karachi, adding that it was an unanimous decision.

Explaining the tribunal's verdict, Farrukh said: "We also took into consideration the past record of Shoaib and that he had publicly apologised for his behaviour and past deeds. He has promised to reform himself and we have also recommended to the board that he should be given proper counselling."

Another member of the tribunal, Naveed Chaudhry, was pushing for the complete removal of the ban, with the provision of higher fine, but was overruled. "I wanted him [Shoaib] to play but pay a hefty fine of 20 million, but the other two members thought otherwise." The third member, former Test cricketer Haseeb Ashan, did not attend the meeting, but gave his consent over telephone.

Meanwhile, Shoaib's lawyer, Abid Hasan Minto, said that he may pursue a further appeal against the reduced ban. "We will take a decision after going through the long and detailed order of the tribunal."

The Pakistan board issued the ban after Shoaib, who was not being offered a contract by the PCB, lashed out at domestic tournaments, pitches and the administration in general. He made the comments while on a two-year probation after hitting team-mate Mohammad Asif with a bat before the World Twenty20 last year.