Umar Akmal ban halved to 18 months

The 30-year-old Pakistan cricketer says he will appeal to get his sentence reduced further.

Umar Akmal (centre) leaving the Pakistan Cricket Board office with his lawyers in Lahore on Wednesday.   -  AP

Pakistan batsman Umar Akmal’s three-year ban for failing to report corrupt approaches was on Wednesday reduced to 18 months on “compassionate” grounds but the cricketer said he was not satisfied with the reprieve and will fight for a complete lifting of the suspension.

Akmal’s ban will effectively run from February 2020 to August 2021 after the 30-year-old’s sentence was reduced by independent adjudicator Faqir Mohammad Khokhar. The batsman expressed dissatisfaction with the ruling on his appeal.

“There have been many cricketers before me who have committed corruption but none of them were given a punishment as severe as mine. I will appeal once more to get my sentence reduced,” Akmal was quoted as saying by the local media here after the decision.

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“I am not happy with the suspension,” he added.

Khokhar, in his order, stated that the case against Akmal was proved to the “hilt” but he reduced the length of the ban out of compassion.

Khokhar felt that the “self-incriminatory admission” by Akmal to the show cause notice about match-fixing on two occasions by two different persons “leaves no room for doubt as to the veracity of the charges against him.”

“The stance taken by the appellant is self-contradictory and not credit-worthy. The case against the appellant stands proved to the hilt. The learned Chairman (of the PCB Disciplinary Panel) has quite justifiably found the appellant guilty of both the charges,” Khokar wrote.

The PCB added: "...whilst taking a compassionate view, the Independent Adjudicator reduced the length of Umar Akmal’s ban to one year and six months.”

Akmal was handed a three-year ban in April for failing to report approaches ahead of the Pakistan Super League. He had accepted his mistake but tried to justify his position.

He last played a Test for Pakistan in late 2009 but his most recent international appearance was in last October in the T20 home series against Sri Lanka.

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The PCB had charged him with two breaches of Article 2.4.4 of its Anti-Corruption Code in two unrelated incidents on March 17. The breaches pertain to failure to report approaches from corruptors.

Akmal was provisionally suspended hours before his Pakistan Super League team Quetta Gladiators was to take on Islamabad in the opening match of the 2020 PSL.

He is the younger brother of former Pakistan wicketkeeper-batsman Kamran Akmal, who played 53 Tests, 58 T20Is, and 157 ODIs for Pakistan, and cousin of current captain Babar Azam.

He has featured in 16 Tests, 121 ODIs and 84 T20Is, scoring 1003, 3194 and 1690 runs respectively.

Akmal promised a lot after making a hundred in New Zealand on his Test debut, but failed to live up to the high expectations that came with some fine performances early in his career.

Constant run-ins with the authorities also marred his stop-start career.

Akmal had earlier escaped a PCB ban in February for allegedly making crude remarks to a trainer during a fitness test at the National Cricket Academy in Lahore.

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