Pakistan batsman Ahmed Shehzad's four-month doping ban has been extended by six weeks because he played club matches during the period of ineligibility, the country's cricket board (PCB) said on Friday.
The PCB banned Shehzad for violating anti-doping regulations after he tested positive for a prohibited substance in May and his suspension was scheduled to end on Nov. 10.
On October 19, the PCB served a notice to the 26-year-old due to him playing during his suspension for the Lahore-based Muslim Gymkhana Cricket Club, which is affiliated with the board.
Shehzad apologised in his response to the PCB, but said he was unaware of the rules and did not breach them intentionally.
"First let me unreservedly tender my apology for my error of judgement. Although ignorance of rules is no excuse, I would nevertheless like you to know that I was unaware of... the PCB rules," the board quoted Shehzad as saying in a statement.
The PCB had the option of imposing a new ban of four months on the cricketer, but decided to extend his original sanction by six weeks due to Shehzad's "immediate admission of fault", "honesty" and the matches he participated in being "friendly" club games.
The PCB provisionally suspended Shehzad in July after his in-competition urine sample collected during the Pakistan Cup domestic tournament had tested positive. The PCB did not specify the substance for which Shehzad had tested positive.
Shehzad last played for Pakistan in the two-match Twenty20 series in Scotland in June. He has played 13 Tests and 81 one-day internationals for Pakistan.
Fit-again Imam returns to Pakistan ODI squad
Fit-again Imam-ul-Haq was Friday included in Pakistan's 15-member squad for the One-Day series against New Zealand.
Imam fractured his finger while fielding during the first Test against Australia last month and was sidelined for the second Test and the subsequent T20 series against the Aussies and New Zealand.
After undergoing a surgery on his injured finger, Imam returned to action on Friday in the semi-final of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy One-Day tournament in Lahore.
Apart from Imam, they are no surprises in the squad that will play three ODIs against New Zealand in Abu Dhabi on November 7 and 9 and in Dubai on 11.
The national selectors have also included experienced all-rounder, Mohammad Hafeez in the ODI squad after he got a lucky break and was called up as the 18th player for the Tests against Australia.
Also recalled is left-arm pacer Junaid Khan, who was overlooked for the Australia series after getting a chance in one match in the Asia Cup and bowling well against Bangladesh.
Interestingly, Pakistan pace attack includes three left-armers but there is still no place for seasoned Mohammad Aamir, who has been told to continue playing domestic cricket and regain his form.
The ODI series is important for Pakistan as it languishes at seventh spot in the ICC ODI rankings and fared poorly in the Asia Cup held in UAE in September.
Pakistan ODI squad: Sarfraz Ahmed (Captain), Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Hafeez, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Haris Sohail, Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Imad Wasim, Hassan Ali, Junaid Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Usman Khan Shinwari.