Johannesburg: A special appeal panel has reduced former Bangladesh cricket team captain Mohammad Ashraful's lengthy ban by three years allowing the batsman to return to competitive cricket as early as August 2016.
Ashraful had been originally slapped with an eight-year ban from all forms of cricket in June this year after he was found guilty of match fixing by a tribunal set up by the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB).
However, an disciplinary appeal panel set aside the sanction and reduced the ban to five years including a two-year suspended sentence provided the star batsman participates in the anti-corruption education and training programme, which the BCB and the International Cricket Council (ICC) would organize, Sport24 reported.
The panel said in its verdict that Ashraful would now be entitled to return to cricket on or about 13 August 2016 upon production of a certificate of good conduct from ICC.
There was no comment from the batsman, arguably Bangladesh's most famous sportsman before he fell from grace last year after admitting match fixing during the 2013 edition of the local twenty-20 cricket meet called Bangladesh Premier League (BPL).
The panel also reduced the ban of Sri Lankan cricketer Kaushal Lokuarachchi by six months, allowing him to play cricket from August this year. Earlier he was banned for 18 months.
In a joint statement, the ICC and BCB said that they would be carefully reviewing the verdict and would decide on their next steps, including whether or not to appeal, the report added.