Karachi:Beleaguered speedster Shoaib Akhtar heaved a huge sigh of relief as the appellate tribunal of the Pakistan Cricket Board on Sunday decided to suspend the five-year ban on him for a month to allow him to play in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Although the tribunal was still in meeting in Lahore, sources aware of the proceedings confirmed that the tribunal had accepted Shoaib's application to suspend the ban for one month and allow him to play in the IPL, which ends on June 1.
IPL commissioner Lalit Modi said that the Pakistan pacer could join the cash-rich event as early as possible. Prior to the ban, Shoaib was signed by Shah Rukh Khan's Kolkata Knight Riders. Modi has now allowed him to join the Kolkata team from their next game.
"Our condition (to allow him play in IPL) was that the ban must be lifted or suspended. In that effect, Shoaib is now allowed to play in the IPL. We've spoken to him and he should be coming to India in the next two days," Modi told NDTV.
"Shoaib was very happy and he is looking forward to it. He has been calling me on a daily basis."
Shoaib joining the Kolkata Knight Riders squad would also add sheen to the tournament, Modi said.
"It's a great moment for us because he is a great asset for IPL. He has got a huge fan base in India and the Knight Riders are extremely happy. I spoke to (Knight Riders owner) Shah Rukh (Khan), he is very happy. He wanted Shoaib to come for one day at least. We are happy that Shoaib can now play for him," Modi said.
Modi said the pacer could play the next match for the Kolkata outfit, even though it was upto the team management to take a final call on the issue.
"He's free to play from the next match itself but it would depend on when he gets down here. The trainer and physio will check him, the coach would go through the process. So whether he would play the next match or not, it's for the Knight Riders to decide," Modi said.
Earlier, the IPL authorities had refused to allow the fast bowler to play in the league despite the tribunal's decision to allow him play outside Pakistan while retaining the ban on him.
Shoaib on Saturday made a fresh application, praying to the tribunal to allow him play in the IPL and earn his livelihood. He said the tribunal should suspend the ban temporarily as it would take time to come to a final decision in the case, by which the IPL would be over.