Karachi: In a major setback to Pakistan cricket, all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez was today banned from bowling in international cricket for 12 months after he failed an independent assessment of his suspect action.
The assessment was carried out at the Sri Ramachandra University in Chennai on July 6 and the ICC said that Hafeez's bowling action was found to be illegal.
The off-spinner, since being reported for a second time during the Test series against Sri Lanka, had been expressing confidence that he would clear the test.
"It is a big setback for us and our future plans but mentally we were prepared for such an outcome," chief selector Haroon Rasheed said.
"Hafeez's off bowling has been a major part of our strategy in one-day internationals and T20 cricket and he has also been a more than able bowling option in Test matches," Rasheed said.
"The ban on him bowling for 12-months means we now have to rethink our strategy for the next one year for ODIs and T20 cricket," the former Test batsman said.
Pakistan's former Test opener and head coach, Mohsin Khan described the ban on Hafeez as disappointing and a big challenge now for the national selectors.
"They now have to review the entire situation with the cricket board and take tough decisions."
A ICC press release said that Hafeez, 34, was assessed after the legality of his bowling action came under question by the match officials during Pakistan's first Test victory over Sri Lanka in Galle (June 17-21).
It said the assessment in Chennai revealed that Hafeez's elbow extension exceeded 15 degrees while bowling and, thus, he employed an illegal bowling action. Hafeez was originally suspended from bowling in November 2014.
Following remedial work on his bowling action, he was reassessed and permitted to resume bowling in April 2015.
A PCB official said it would take stock of the situation since Hafeez is entitled to appeal any procedural aspect of an independent assessment that has led to this automatic suspension.
"The main issue is that Hafeez can now only approach the ICC for a re-assessment of his bowling action after 12-months."
Cricket experts have already been debating on the fact that if Hafeez can't bowl, are his batting skills good enough to warrant a place for him in the three formats in the national squad.