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A Pakistani court on Friday said Shoaib Akhtar was free to play cricket again after suspending an 18-month ban imposed on the paceman by the country's cricket authorities for indiscipline.

A judge at Lahore High Court ruled that the 32-year-old Akhtar should be allowed to play until his appeal against the ban is heard, most likely in September.

Akhtar lodged an appeal with the court on Tuesday against an 18-month ban for indiscipline, the latest in a string of controversies involving the bowler. The ban was originally for five years but was reduced last month.

"While accepting his application for interim relief (until the appeal is heard), the court has allowed Shoaib Akhtar to play cricket," Judge Zahid Hussain told the court in the eastern city.

"The petition will be heard after the summer vacation," which ends in September, he said.

Akhtar welcomed the decision and said he wanted to play in the Champions Trophy, which Pakistan hosts in September this year.

"I am relieved," Akhtar told AFP after the hearing.

"I am keeping fit and I'm going to England and try to play some county or league matches there and get in shape for the Champions Trophy."

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