HYDERABAD: Former Pakistan Test captain Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif returned to domestic action in the national one-day tournament on Sunday, four months after completing their five-year bans for spot-fixing.
The duo, along with Mohammad Amir, were banned by the International Cricket Council (ICC) for bowling deliberate no-balls in return for money during the Lord’s Test against England on Pakistan’s tour in 2010.
The three players and their agent Mazhar Majeed were later jailed in the UK.
The ICC lifted their sanctions on the pair in September last year, making them eligible for national and international matches.
Amir, whose ban was relaxed in April 2015, Sunday boarded a plane to New Zealand after he was included in Pakistan’s one-day and Twenty20 squads.
Butt and Asif travelled to Hyderabad to play for Water and Power Development Authority against Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
Butt, 31, said he felt relaxed on his return. “It’s a sort of rebirth for me,” Butt told AFP before going out to open the innings. “I will do my best to perform and return to Pakistan team.”
Asif, 33, said he had overcome a difficult period in his life. “The last five years were the toughest for me and for my family but I am happy that that period is over now and I am back on the field,” Asif told AFP.
Asif said he was confident in his ability to bowl again after such a long spell out.
“I have been training for the last five years. We both were in the team for the four-day tournament prior to the one-day matches but we were not allowed to play so I have been bowling in the nets and will not feel any problem,” said Asif.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had said both Asif and Butt will have to complete their rehabilitation and perform to a high standard before harbouring any hopes of returning to international cricket.
Pakistan head coach Waqar Younis has also backed Butt and Asif’s return to the team, but cautioned that they would have to impress the selectors with their performances.