Lahore: Pakistan’s tainted duo of Salman Butt and Muhammad Asif made their first appearance in a competitive cricket match on Sunday after serving a five-year ban and jail terms for the 2010 spot-fixing scandal.
Their return in the National ODI Championship came four months after their bans expired but the Pakistan Cricket Board kept them on hold, making it compulsory for them to first complete a rehabilitation/reintegration programme.
Former Test captain and opening batsman Salman Butt and pacer Asif had to travel nearly 160 kilometres from Karachi to Hyderabad to play in their first proper match in five years as they turned out for their department, Water and Power Development Authority.
Ironically, the development came just hours before fellow accused Muhammad Amir flew out with the Pakistan squad for the limited over series in New Zealand.
The left-arm pacer has been fast-tracked back into the national squad after he was allowed by the ICC to resume playing domestic cricket six months before his ban expired last year.
Pakistan’s head coach Waqar Younis told media before leaving for New Zealand that if Butt and Asif performed well in the Championship and showed form and fitness there was no reason to prevent them from playing again for Pakistan.
“Why should anything be different for Butt an Asif? All three of them made the same mistake and all three have completed their punishments. So I don’t see having different conditions for them,” he said.