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Umar Akmal's ban reduced to 18 months; eligible to return in August 2021
Respite for Akmal

Umar Akmal's ban reduced to 18 months; eligible to return in August 2021

Umar Akmal's three-year ban from all cricket activities has been halved to 18 months by former Supreme Court judge Justice (retd) Faqir Muhammad Khokhar, who acted in his capacity as an independent adjudicator on the case.

The Pakistan middle-order batsman will now remain suspended until August 2021 as he was slapped with the initial ban in February earlier this year.

Despite the significant reduction in the sentence, the 30-year-old has maintained he is willing to make another appeal against the punishment following consultation with his lawyers.

The latest development comes as a huge respite for Akmal since he was handed a three-year suspension after being found guilty of breaching the PCB anti-corruption code on two unrelated occasions.

His failure to report match-fixing approaches resulted in him being barred from taking part in the fifth edition of the Pakistan Super League. Title-holders Quetta Gladiators were forced to call up Anwar Ali as a last-minute replacement for Akmal hours before the tournament opener.

The charges against Akmal concerned him violating Article 2.4.4 of the PCB anti-corruption code, which states: "Failing to disclose to the PCB Vigilance and Security Department (without unnecessary delay) full details of any approaches or invitations received by the Participant to engage in Corrupt Conduct under this Anti-Corruption Code".

Having opted not to request a hearing before the Anti-Corruption Tribunal, Umar was given a lengthy ban by Chairman of the Disciplinary Panel Justice (retired) Fazal-e-Miran Chauhan towards the end of April.

Chauhan had criticised Akmal for his lack of remorse and reluctance to seek an apology in the detailed verdict and noted that the cricketer had not provided good reasons for the unnecessary delay in reporting corrupt approaches.

Akmal then filed an official appeal challenging the severity of the ban in May, pointing out similar instances in the past where players were given more lenient sanctions for not informing authorities of fixing offers.

"I am thankful to the judge for listening to my lawyers properly. I will now decide about appealing against my punishment and further reducing the suspension," Akmal said in a media interaction outside the court today.

"Currently, I am not satisfied and will take my next step after consulting with my lawyers and family. Many players before me have made mistakes and look at the punishment they received and what I got," he added.

The 18-month ban is another obstacle in the topsy-turvy career of the veteran batter as he has often been in the spotlight engulfed by controversies.

Disciplinary issues and subpar fitness have meant that Akmal has been unable to be a constant member of the national side for the past few years.

#Corruption in Cricket#Pakistan