Shoaib may join Kolkata on Monday

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> The Pakistan pacer who was cleared to play in the IPL, is expected to join the Kolkata Knight Riders on Monday.

Updated: May 13, 2008 12:53 IST
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Pakistan and Knight Riders pacer Shoaib Akhtar, cleared to play in the cash-rich Indian Premier League with his ban suspended for a month by a Pakistani tribunal, is likely to fly in to Kolkata on Monday to join his team.

Akhtar, whose availability has given a boost to the Knight Riders after the team's string of four successive losses, would be assessed for fitness on Tuesday ahead of Sourav Ganguly-led side's game against Bangalore Royal Challengers here on May 8.

Earlier in the day, a three-member appellate tribunal of the Pakistan Cricket Board decided to suspend the five-year ban on Akhtar for a month, paving the way for his participation in the IPL.

Officials of Shah Rukh Khan's Red Chillies Entertainment, which owns the Knight Riders, were euphoric on receiving the news.

"We are glad and relieved that Shoaib is finally going to turn out for us. We hope he is available to play in Thursday's match. This development has also made Shah Rukh happy," said top Red Chillies official IS Bhandari.

Cricket Association of Bengal President Prasun Mukherjee also welcomed the development. "Shoaib's inclusion will definitely give a boost to the team after four defeats," he said.

Akhtar was bought by the Shah Rukh Khan-owned Kolkata Knight Riders for USD 425,000 in the players' auction.

However, the side's plans went awry when the PCB slapped the ban on the 32-year-old pace spearhead for his public criticism of the Board after being given a retainership instead of a contract.

The Appellate tribunal granted the temporary relief after Akhtar and his lawyers moved an urgent application on Saturday that the ban be suspended so that he can earn his livelihood in the IPL.

The tribunal had refused to stay the ban earlier this week, while allowing the fast bowler to play anywhere outside Pakistan.

But the governing council of the IPL had barred him from the tournament saying he would not be allowed until the ban is lifted.

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