Pakistan clears Yousuf, Razzaq for national team

LAHORE: Pakistan on Friday accepted the resignations of Mohammad Yousuf and Abdul Razzaq from a rebel Indian cricket league, clearing the way for them to be selected for the national team, an official said.

The pair were among 23 players who defected to the unrecognised Indian Cricket League (ICL) and were thus barred from playing in and for Pakistan at any level.

Following their resignations, they "are now eligible to be selected for Pakistan's international series in future," Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) director human resources Wasim Bari told AFP.

Twenty-one players had their bans suspended by Sindh High Court in February, making them eligible to play domestic cricket.

Inzamam-ul-Haq, who is retired from international cricket and Saqlain Mushtaq, who now lives in England, did not seek to have their bans suspended.

The ICL, bankrolled by India's largest media group Zee telefilms, said it would no objection if some players represent their country.

Several countries have announced an umbrella amnesty for players quitting the ICL by May 31, but the PCB said it would consider selecting players on a case by case basis.

Razzaq and Yousuf were part of Pakistan team until they were axed for the inaugural World Twenty20 held in South Africa in 2007.

As protest both signed for the ICL -- which is not recognised by the ICC and the Board of Control for Cricket in India -- and were immediately banned.

Yousuf rescinded his decision in 2007 but rejoined the ICL in November last year after developing differences with then captain Shoaib Malik.

Razzaq said he was delighted at the prospect of playing for Pakistan.

"I am delighted," said Razzaq. "I am keen to return for Pakistan and hope my performances at domestic level will earn me a recall," Razzaq said.

Razzaq, 29, had played 46 Tests and 231 one-day internationals and was regarded as one of the leading allrounders in the world.

The 34-year-old Yousuf had played 79 Tests and 269 one-day internationals and was declared ICC's best batsman of the year in 2007. He scored a world record 1,788 runs -- the most in a calendar year in Test cricket --- in 2006.