LAHORE: Pakistan opening batsman Sharjeel Khan is set to return to top-tier cricket by the end of this year after he, for the first time, tendered an "unconditional apology" to the country's cricket board.
Sharjeel was banned from the sport by the Anti-Corruption Tribunal of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for his role in a spot-fixing scandal, during the second edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) in 2017.
The left-hander was charged with deliberately not scoring on two balls at a certain time of the match in return for money from bookies in Dubai.
The 30-year-old was found guilty on five counts by the anti-corruption unit and was slapped a five-year suspension by the PCB.
However, on Monday, Sharjeel met the PCB and both the parties agreed on a roadmap for his return.
In a media release, PCB said that it was "agreed Sharjeel will complete rehabilitation, designed by the PCB's Security and Anti-Corruption Department, before the end of the year and then reintegrate into top-level cricket".
Sharjeel has however, not revealed what specifically he was apologising for. "I offer my unconditional apology to the Pakistan Cricket Board, my team-mates, fans and family for the irresponsible conduct that brought embarrassment to everyone.
"I request for forgiveness and assure I will show more responsibility in my future actions."
Having completed the 30-month period, the opening batsman will now undergo rehabilitation as deemed fit by the PCB's Security and Anti-Corruption Code.
"I remind all cricketers to strictly and religiously follow the PCB Anti-Corruption Code as breaching it will only earn momentary gains but the consequences will be severe and last for rest of the career," he said.
While stating that he will not rush into domestic cricket, Sharjeel insisted that his first priority would be to regain full fitness.
"I will soon return to club cricket but will not rush into domestic cricket as I have been away for nearly 30 months and need time to reclaim my fitness and form," he stated.
Lt Col (R) Asif Mahmood, Director - PCB Security and Anti-Corruption, said that PCB doesn't take pleasure in punishing players, but they do take pride in enforcing the PCB Anti-Corruption Code strictly.
"We met Sharjeel today in which he showed remorse and regret for his actions. The PCB never takes pride in penalizing its players, but it has a non-negotiable and zero-tolerance approach to matters relating to corruption."
"I hope this serves as a reminder to all those who think they can get away with violating rules as the PCB is vigilant and committed to eliminate the menace of corruption from the game," he added.
Sharjeel has so far played one Test, 25 ODIs and 15 T20Is in which he scored 44, 812 and 360 runs, respectively.