Pakistan’s former skipper Salman Butt smashed a century while left-armer Mohammad Asif picked up two wickets in their victorious return to domestic cricket last Sunday (10), months after they completed five-year bans for spot-fixing.
The duo, along with Mohammad Amir, were banned by the International Cricket Council (ICC) for their roles in a complex betting scam in a Test against England in 2010 that involved the bowling of deliberate no-balls. The three players and their agent Mazhar Majeed were later jailed in Britain.
The ICC lifted the sanctions on the pair in September, making them eligible for national and international matches. Amir, whose ban was relaxed in April 2015, boarded a plane on Sunday 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 (WAPDA) against the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in the domestic one-day league.
Butt showed signs of his past form with a fluid,135 off 143 balls including 14 boundaries to lead his team to 278-7 in 50 overs.
Tall Asif, whose wily, accurate swing together with bounce made him one of the world’s best bowlers before his suspension, finished with 2-22 from six testing overs, helping to shoot out the opposition for 136 and ensure a romping 142-run victory.
Former captain Butt, 31, said after: “A hundred on return is something I will remember. I am satisfied with my batting and hope to continue the same form.”
He also thanked retired players, including current coach Waqar Younis, for his support and credited batting legend Mohammed Yousuf with helping him with his technique in the nets. Earlier he described the match as a “rebirth” and expressed his desire to return to the fold.
Butt added that the return of Amir would boost Pakistan’s chances on their New Zealand tour, where they play three Twenty20 and as many one-day internationals.
“Without doubt, Amir’s return will strengthen Pakistan’s bowling and competition will grow in the bowling contingent and others’ performances will also get better, so I wish him the best.”
Meanwhile, Asif added, “The last five years were the toughest for me and for my family but I am happy that period is over now and I am back on the field,” the 33-year-old said.
“I have been training for the last five years. We both were in the team for the four-day tournament prior to the one-dayers but we were not allowed to play, so I have been bowling in the nets.”