ISLAMABAD - Pakistan's Supreme Court Saturday agreed to hear an appeal by the federal government challenging a lower court's decision to reinstate the country's embattled cricket chief. Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Zaka Ashraf was suspended eight months ago over alleged dubious elections.

The Nawaz Sharif government appointed an Interim Management Committee to oversee the PCB but Ashraf was reinstated by an appellate bench of the Islamabad High Court earlier this month.

In the latest twist of an ongoing legal drama, the Supreme Court has now allowed a challenge to that ruling by the federal government to go ahead with the hearing expected to start on Monday. Irfanullah Khan, a lawyer for government's interim committee, confirmed the court had agreed to hear the appeal. "The petition challenging Ashraf's reinstatement has been accepted by the Supreme Court and is likely to be heard on Monday," Khan told AFP.

The petition pleaded that the decision by the appellate bench be set aside and that the IMC be restored in its place, said Khan. Court sources said a three-man bench under chief justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani had been formed to hear the case.

The protracted legal wrangling has badly damaged Pakistan cricket's reputation since it first became public last May. It comes as the PCB looks to appoint a new coach to replace Dav Whatmore whose two-year tenure ended last week. Zaka is in London to attend very important ICC meeting without any mendate from the government.