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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 May, 2003, 07:09 GMT 08:09 UK
Shoaib handed ban
Shoaib Akhtar
Shoaib was spotted scratching the seam
Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar has been banned for two matches for ball-tampering.

Shoaib was reported to International Cricket Council match referee Gundappa Viswanath following a one-day international against New Zealand in Sri Lanka on Tuesday.

He was spotted apparently scratching the quarter seam of the ball on close-up television by third umpire Gamini Silva.

Viswanath announced Shoaib's ban on Wednesday and added the cricketer had also been fined 75% of his match fee.

He said: "I consider this offence to be of a serious nature and the penalty imposed reflects that.

"It is an unfair attempt to gain any advantage by altering the condition of the ball.

"Tampering with the ball is contrary to the laws and spirit of cricket."

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Shoaib, who took 3-36 from 9.1 overs, had produced a match-winning spell during which six New Zealand wickets tumbled for 21 runs.

It was the second time in seven months Shoaib had been found guilty of ball-tampering.

He was severely reprimanded for scratching the ball in the first Test against Zimbabwe last November.

Breaking Law 42.3, which refers to changing the condition of the match ball, is a Level Two offence according to International Cricket Council's code of conduct.

The suspension will put him out of the Tri-Series final against New Zealand and the first game of the NatWest Challenge against England next month.

The Pakistan Cricket Board could have punished Shoaib further but decided against it.

In a statement the PCB said: "The PCB will not challenge the decision of the match referee.

"The chief executive of the PCB is in Dambulla and he has been instructed to brief Shoaib Akhtar on the consequences of his action and what is expected of him.

"The PCB will take no further disciplinary action against Shoaib Akhtar as he has already been fined for the offence."

ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed
"The players don't want to see this kind of thing happening"

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