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LAHORE: The lawyer for under-probe opener Sharjeel Khan on Saturday said that he foresees his client’s acquittal in the PSL spot fixing case or at the maximum getting a punishment of six months.

Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) Anti-corruption Tribunal headed by retired Justice Asghar Haider has completed hearing verbal statements of both the parties this week and has ordered them to submit their written replies by July 29 after which the verdict will be announced in about one month period.

Talking to Dawn here on Thursday, Sharjeel’s lawyer Sheghan Ijaz said that he had tried to defend his client’s case in the best possible manner. “Sharjeel is facing five charges in the case which we have defended well and are now upbeat about his acquittal,” maintained Sheghan, adding that the worst possible scenario for his client could be a ban of six months for his failure to report to the PCB about the offer made to him by bookies or by fellow cricketer Khalid Latif.”

Although lawyer for Sharjeel expressed satisfaction with the proceedings of the case, he did express his reservations over former fast bowler Aaqib Javed’s appearance as witness of the court.

“I produced three expert witnesses in Mohammad Yousuf, Dean Jones and Sadiq Mohammad who are all batting experts. But Aaqib, appearing as expert witness of the court, has no background as a batsman,” remarked the lawyer.

“Aaqib recorded his statement before the tribunal without taking the oath since it was taken later which has no legal standing,” said Sheghan, adding that he had taken up the issue before the tribunal and is hoping it would consider the point in its final verdict.

Sheghan said Manager Operations Andrew Ephgrave of England’s National Crime Agency (NCA) as a witness in the case had not produced any proof against his client in his statement recorded through Skype.

Sharjeel is faced with the allegations that bookies offered him to play two dots balls in the PSL opening match between Islamabad and Peshawar in Dubai.

The PCB alleges that the same script was followed in the said match with the names of five cricketers including Khalid Latif, Nasir Jamshed, Shahzaib Hasan, Mohammad Irfan apart from Sharjeel coming to the fore in the scandal.

Fast bowler Irfan has already confessed that a bookie made contact with him and he failed to inform the PCB well on time.

“There will be no problem if, like Irfan, who is serving a one-year ban [which could be reduced to six months provided his good conduct], Sharjeel is given the same period of punishment for his failure to report the approach from bookies to PCB,” said Sharjeel’s lawyer.

When reminded that fast bowler Irfan had confessed to his wrongdoing in the very beginning instead of fighting the case like his client Sharjeel who has contested the charges levelled against him, Sheghan said his client had no other option but to fight the case after the baseless charges.

Asked if it had not been better if Nasir Jamshed’s case was heard first by the tribunal, considering the fact that the PCB had alleged him as the main accused in the PSL fixing case, Sheghan said his client could not wait for Nasir’s hearing as he has a definite opportunity to revive his cricket career in the future.

Published in Dawn, July 23rd, 2017

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