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The Haseeb factor...
- Did the world cup influence PCB tribunal'

Calcutta: The appointment of the “fiercely nationalist” Haseeb Ahsan (a former Test cricketer, chief selector and manager) on the Pakistan Cricket Board’s appeals tribunal had given rise to whispers that Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammed Asif would be let off.

On Tuesday, that turned out to be true. And, as a result, both will now be available for cricket’s No.1 show — the World Cup, next March-April.

The tribunal, of course, may have acted strictly on merit. However, it’s astonishing that the anti-doping commission’s verdict got overturned despite the many damning observations.

In particular, against the experienced Shoaib.

The commission, too, had three members — one being former captain and coach Intikhab Alam.

“I don’t have an immediate reaction… I can’t say anything till I’ve received a copy of the tribunal’s decision (which wasn’t reached unanimously),” is all that Intikhab said when contacted by The Telegraph.

He must have been upset, but didn’t allow his tone to give anything away.

The question doing the rounds is: Would the tribunal have acted so very differently (from the commission) had the World Cup not been mere months away'

That’s one question which, obviously, isn’t going to get a quick burial.

The International Cricket Council (ICC), meanwhile, hadn’t reacted till late at night.

“We’re still digesting the tribunal’s decision… Moreover, the president (Percy Sonn) is in transit and the chief executive (Malcolm Speed) is travelling in central Africa,” explained spokesman Brian Murgatroyd.

Not too long ago, the ICC had praised Pakistan for its tough stand on Shoaib and Asif.

What now'

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