Eyebrows have been raised in Pakistan over the presence of Mohammad Azharuddin in an Indian veterans team set to play a limited-overs series against a Pakistan Veteran's XI later this month. Salim Malik, the former Pakistani captain, has been debarred from taking part in the series because of a life ban for his involvement in matchfixing, but no similar restriction has been placed on Azharuddin, who is also serving a similar ban.
The series is being organised by the Pakistan Seniors Cricket Board, an affiliated unit of the Pakistan Cricket Board. "We are an affiliated unit of the PCB and although we are an independent body who operate independantly, we cannot do anything or take any action that goes against the PCB," Fawad Ijaz Khan, chairman of the Pakistan Seniors Cricket Board, told Cricinfo.
"The Justice Qayyuum report specifically bans Salim Malik from playing any form of cricket," added Ijaz Khan. "Theoretically, even if he wanted to play galli cricket, he could not. The difference with Azharuddin is that he is banned from playing for India and first-class cricket only. He has been playing Veterans cricket for a while there now. He was given clearance by the BCCI for this tour so there is no problem there. It is just that the bans are of a different nature between the two."
There appears to be some confusion here as Azharuddin has certainly not "been given clearance" by the Board of Control for Cricket in India. The Indian Veteran's XI is not selected by the BCCI and is not sanctioned by the board. "The BCCI have no connection to the veterans series," Ratnakar Shetty, Executive Secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, told Cricinfo. "We are not involved in the organisation or in any other aspect and therefore have no control over who is selected or who is not."
Malik, on the other hand, expressed an interest to play in the series, but was denied. "I spoke to Malik and he wanted to play," Ijaz Khan said. "I don't have any problem with him playing for us - I told him that but he is not allowed to as per the PCB and the Justice Qayyuum report. If the PCB said he was allowed to play I would definitely have him playing."
The Indian side of things is being co-ordinated by Chetan Chauhan, the former Indian opener. He runs an organisation that brings together former cricketers for various matches - charity and otherwise. The first match of the series will be played in Karachi on April 23 with three more games at Sialkot, Sheikupura and Lahore on April 25, 27 and 30.
India squad Syed Kirmani, Manoj Prabhakar, Nayan Mongia, Chetan Sharma, Sanjeev Sharma, Vivek Razdan, Praveen Amre, WV Raman, Samir Dighe, David Johnson, Noel David, Amarjeet Singh Kaypee, Ananth Padmanabhan.
Pakistan squad Javed Miandad, Moin Khan, Ijaz Ahmed Sr, Abdul Qadir, Aamir Sohail, Aaquib Javed, Rashid Latif, Ijaz Ahmed Jr., Shoaib Mohammad, Ejaz Faqih, Mansoor Akhtar, Naved Anjum, Mohsin Kamal, Manzoor Elahi, Azam Khan,Nadeem Abbasi and Nadeem Ghauri.