Yousuf making excuses - Malik

Shoaib Malik, the Pakistan captain, has said Mohammad Yousuf's claim that he was forced to join the ICL because of Malik's attitude was "a smart way to make an excuse".

"It is not a fair judgment on part of Yousuf as he is the senior-most player of the team and I always respected him and had his opinion on cricketing matters related to the team," Malik told the News. "I think Yousuf has given this statement without a fair and thorough analysis of the circumstances and it is his wrong thought and claim that he joined the ICL because of my attitude. I think it is a smart way to make an excuse and I do not agree what he has said."

After a flip-flop over his participation in the league - he had initially signed with the league last year and was wooed back by the PCB - Yousuf finally joined the ICL earlier this month. He was part of the Lahore Badshahs, who won the recent tournament in the league's second season.

Malik, speaking after the team's return from their 3-0 win over West Indies in Abu Dhabi, was pleased with the team's progress. "I am satisfied the way I have done as a captain and I am not bothered if I am not retained as a captain because I am enjoying playing cricket and I will do the same even as an ordinary member of the team," he said.

"I am very much satisfied that we have made some progress in our ranking, from sixth to fourth place in ODIs, and we must have this point under consideration that we had lesser opportunities to play international cricket in the past one year which led to cancellations of some events at home."

Malik felt he had met to the demands of being a leader, and was looking forward to playing India at home. "If captaincy is a pride it also brings heavy responsibility and challenge and so far I have done my best to rise to the expectations."

Yousuf's team-mate in the ICL, former Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq, said there were positive vibes over the possible lifting of the ban on players linked with the ICL. I have got positive vibes and response from the PCB about granting recognition to the ICL and I am hopeful the bans on the ICL players would be lifted soon," Inzamam said. "I think it is also time the ICC plays its role and take steps to safeguard the players rights, who are signed up for the ICL.

"The ICL is promoting cricket and providing livelihood to many players and also giving chances to young Indian cricketers. So it is time the ICC and Indian board recognise it to make the tournament official."

With a dearth of international fixtures for Pakistan, Inzamam also offered a suggestion to the PCB. "If the Pakistan team thinks it is short on match practice, then it can play a series of matches against Lahore Badshahs," he said. "Playing for Pakistan is the biggest honour because nothing can match it. But people in Pakistan also love Lahore Badshahs which is why I believe matches between Pakistan and Badshahs will be keenly followed by fans all over the country."