Karachi: Test batsman Sharjeel Khan was on Wednesday handed a five-year ban by the anti-corruption tribunal of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for his role in a spot-fixing scandal during the Pakistan Super League (PSL) in February this year.
Sharjeel was banned for breaching five clauses of the anti-corruption code of the PCB.
A short order released by the tribunal said that Sharjeel would serve the five-year ban in two phases with two-and-a-half years being a suspended sentence to be served under observation of the PCB.
The ban is effective from February 10 this year when he was first suspended and sent back from Dubai on spot-fixing charges along with another Pakistan player Khalid Latif.
The punishment imposed by the tribunal, headed by a former Lahore High Court judge Justice Asghar Haider means that Sharjeel, 28, can revive his career after two years.
"We are okay with the decision and like I had said, the PCB was unable to produce sufficient evidence to convince the tribunal that my client did indeed do spot-fixing," his lawyer, Shaighan Ejaz told the media.
Sharjeel, who has played in one Test, 25 one-dayers and 25 T20 matches was hailed as a "Warner" for Pakistan by former head coach, Waqar Younis who said he was very disappointed after learning about Sharjeel's PSL fixing issue.
The tribunal's decision is as a setback for the PCB which had repeatedly claimed to have sufficient evidence against Sharjeel and Khalid Latif in the case.
The PCB had even asked the tribunal for a life ban on the two players. The tribunal will give a verdict on Latif's case next month after first starting its hearings into the PSL fixing cases in April this year.
The PCB claims that Sharjeel and Khalid met with bookmakers in Dubai and the former accepted a spot-fixing offer and played two dot balls as per a deal with the bookmaker.
Sharjeel has denied playing the dot balls as part of a spot fixing deal and his lawyer produced expert witnesses -- former Test batsmen Dean Jones, Muhammed Yousuf and Sadiq Mohammed -- to confirm Sharjeel played the balls on merit in the first match of the PSL this year.
Sharjeel is not the first Pakistani to be banned in a corruption case as before him former Pakistan Test captain Salim Malik was given a life ban for match-fixing by the Justice Malik Qayyum inquiry commission in 2000 but a lower court later overturned the ban.
In early 2011, another Pakistan captain, Salman Butt and pacers, Mohammed Aamir and Mohammed Asif were given minimum five-year bans by an ICC anti-corruption tribunal for spot-fixing during the series in England in 2010.
All three completed their bans and are now back playing competitive cricket with Aamir making a comeback for the Pakistan team as well.
In 2012-13, Pakistan Test -spinner, Danish Kaneria was banned for life any an anti-corruption tribunal of the England and Wales Cricket Board for fixing in English county cricket while playing for Essex.
Other players have also been fined for not cooperating with the Justice Qayyum inquiry.