FATA v WAPDA, National One Day Cup 2015-16, Hyderabad January 10, 2016

Butt scores hundred on comeback, Asif takes two


Water and Power Development Authority 277 for 7 (Butt 135) beat Federally Administered Tribal Areas 136 (Usman 4-30) by 141 runs

Playing competitive cricket after over five years, Salmat Butt scored a brisk hundred with 14 fours © AFP

Salman Butt scored a hundred and Mohammad Asif picked up two wickets in six overs on their return to competitive cricket after over five years. Butt and Asif, whose spot-fixing ban were lifted last September, were representing Water and Power Development Authority against Federally Administered Tribal Areas in the ongoing 16-team National One Day Cup in Pakistan.

Butt and Asif were allowed to play again by the PCB since they are only a month away from completing their rehabilitation. They were actually eligible to play all forms of cricket from September, and were signed as non-executive 17th grade employees by WAPDA. Both of them have been travelling with the team but were not allowed to play first-class cricket earlier as the PCB wanted them to complete their rehabilitation programme before making a comeback.

Butt, 31, opened and scored 135 from 143 balls with the help of 14 fours to power WAPDA to 277 for 7 in 50 overs. Asif, 33, removed the FATA openers and finished with figures of 6-0-22-2, to spark a collapse as FATA were skittled for 136 and lost by a hefty margin of 141 runs.

"This is the start and I hope that this is the new beginning," Butt said after the match. "I will try to maintain this performance. As long as I will get more matches I will improve and rhythm will be better. I thank my family, friends, coaches, my WAPDA team and all those well-wishers who supported me. Without their contribution it would not have happened.

"I was focused all through these years. I did a lot of work to keep myself in best shape. Since I wasn't allowed to play cricket for registered clubs, I had been training at unregistered facilities and the result is there. I thank Waqar [Younis] and other seniors, they have positive thoughts in their talk and this gives me more encouragement."

Recently, Pakistan selected Mohammad Amir for the New Zealand tour, which became a subject of heated debate even within the Pakistan squad. Butt and Asif are also looking ahead to their reintegration in the system, backed by some solid performances.

"I don't want to see who is opposing me and what he is saying," Butt said. "There will be negative opinions as well and with respect to them I will not reply to them. My target is to work hard. I hope things will get better, no complaints and I will look towards Allah and things will fall into place finally.

"Amir's return, without doubt 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."

Asif had also been seen training in Lahore and believed he was ready to prove himself. "I am very relaxed, the toughest phase of my life is over," he said. "Throughout the five-year span I remained focused about cricket and that's why I am not finding any difficulty in bowling.

"We were in the team for Quaid-e-Azam Trophy as well but unfortunately we were not allowed to play. But now is the chance to prove myself and I am ready for that. This one-day tournament will help me gauge where I stand as far as bowling is concerned. I am a swing bowler so I will not find any difficulty. International cricket is my target but I have to do well in the domestic matches before I can hope of international cricket."

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. @kalson

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Tom on January 15, 2016, 15:11 GMT

    Why Danish Kaneria and Abdul Razzak not been forgiven. Butt is scoring runs but nowadays its not about scoring runs but also how fast you scores it. 300 runs are just a par score now and is not a guarantee to win. Therefore in my calculations if a batsman play 150 balls ( 25 overs) he should be making at least 150-170 so the team can have 300+ runs on the board. Butt scored 99 (144 balls) which is not ok. I understand he is trying to come to form but from now on he should make it counts too. I always think Mohammad Asif is the best bowler Pakistan has ever produced despite his questionable personality. If these players manage to come back than that could be a good sign for Pak cricket.

  • Abdul on January 12, 2016, 16:01 GMT

    Good to see them, they have full right to play now as they have completed their harsh sentence/punishment. But I wonder where is Abdul Razzaq? He wants to take part in PSL which is not without taking part in domestic arena. Why not he is taking part, I could not see him. where he is?

  • mo on January 12, 2016, 14:16 GMT

    I am from USA, love watching cricket. I feel all kinds of sport is tinted in all parts of world. Asians waste lots of time in discussing these issues. Ironically they elect corrupt politicians and ex-convicts. These corrupt politicians become ministers and and rise to become presidents to shape the destiny of their countries. Amir, Butt and Asif accepted bribe, they were harshly punished. In all likely hood they will never do it again. These guys served the term and should be free to play. If they are talented enough, they should be selected to play international cricket.

  • asad on January 11, 2016, 23:53 GMT

    The way I see it is that Salman Butt should be given a chance if he is good enough to make it but not Asif. The reason why Butt & Asif get less sympathy than Amir is because they were both more mature & Butt was captain while it wasn't the first time Asif had done something against ICC's rules (steroids). Its also believed that Asif & Butt had a strong part in persuading Amir to do spot-fixing since a young emerging bowler especially from the sub continent tends to do whatever the senior bowler and captain says. On top of all this, Asif & Butt kept fighting against the obvious conclusion that they did spot-fixing for many years & only admitted when there was no other option left. Despite all of this, I think everyone should be given a second chance so Butt should be given a chance again (although never as captain) but Asif's terrible track record should mean that he doesn't get to play with the green shirt on again.

  • Jawwad on January 11, 2016, 20:31 GMT

    How poetic for Butt? Please keep him away from International cricket. He can play domestic all he wants and around the world should he get the opportunity.

  • sohel on January 11, 2016, 16:25 GMT

    looks like Pakistan running out decent cricketers now a days ?

  • sohel on January 11, 2016, 16:07 GMT

    Salman Butt, Mohammad asif and Mohammad amir what a combination in International Cricket ..... Go Pakistan do it again

  • ysiddiqui1 on January 11, 2016, 15:54 GMT

    it's actually amazing for some to score like this after such a long layoff...Alhamdu Lillah.

  • ideal on January 11, 2016, 15:00 GMT

    If Amir can get a chance why not Asif and Salman Butt. They all were in same boat. They have all completed sentence. So, it will be double standard if these guys are not given a chance. Well done Pakistan for opening up opportunities for ex-convitcs.

  • kashif sal on January 11, 2016, 13:04 GMT

    lots of sensible comments here. Yes, I too agree they should be allowed back in the national side since they've already paid for their crime. Everybody deserves a second Chance.

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