LAHORE, Oct 6 (Reuters) Pakistan's Shoaib Akhtar, who is under suspension on disciplinary grounds, has asked for permission from his cricket board to play in the recently launched Twenty20 Indian Premier League (IPL).
''I have got a written offer from the organisers and I am keen to take part in this league,'' Akhtar told Reuters today. ''I have asked in writing...for permission to accept the IPL contract.'' The fast bowler appeared on Saturday at a disciplinary hearing into a brawl he had with team mate Mohammad Asif in South Africa last month before the Twenty20 World Cup and for which he was sent home by the team manager.
The PCB's disciplinary committee said it needed more time to consider documents submitted by Akhtar's lawyer and was deferring its decision until next week.
The IPL was launched by the Indian board last month with the support of the Australian, England, South African and Pakistan cricket boards. Organisers say the first edition will be held next year in India.
Top teams of franchised IPL tournaments in all five countries will qualify to play in the IPL Champions League for cash rewards with each country allowed to sign up four foreign players per team for its home league.
The Indian board set up the IPL with the blessing of the International Cricket Council (ICC) after the launch of the unofficial Indian Cricket League (ICL) by a leading Indian media firm which has signed up several foreign players including five from Pakistan.
''The IPL is an official tournament and has good money. The advantage is whenever it is held it will not clash with my national commitments,'' said Akhtar, who has turned down an offer to play in the rebel ICL.
MORE TIME After today's disciplinary hearing, PCB chief executive Shafqat Naghmi said the board would not rush into a ruling on Akhtar.
''We have received some material from the legal counsel of Shoaib and we need time to analyse these documents,'' Naghmi, the head of the disciplinary committee, told reporters.
''We want to reach a fair and just decision and want to give an equal opportunity to all the concerned people to record their statements. We will not hurry this procedure,'' he said.
Naghmi said a decision would be made before the start of the one-day series against South Africa on Oct. 18 in Lahore.
Akhtar hit Asif with a bat following a row between the two in the dressing-room at Centurion Park. Akhtar has said he accidentally hit Asif and that team mate Shahid Afridi had provoked the row.
The board has also charged Akhtar with four other counts of misconduct including going to England to play a charity match without clearance in August and addressing a news conference without permission.
Akhtar has a history of disciplinary problems since his debut in 1997. Last November he escaped a two-year ban for a doping offence after testing positive for a banned substance before the ICC Champions Trophy in India. He appealed and was cleared.
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