Abdul Razzaq could become the first Pakistani to appear in this season's IPL, with the player saying he had been approached by Kolkata Knight Riders. While a team official said they had not approached the player following last week's auction, Razzaq said he had been offered a contract by the franchise and Sourav Ganguly, the team captain, was quoted by NDTV as saying they had been in touch with him.
"A one-year contract with KKR is ready, I have been told, but the IPL's clearance is needed first," Razzaq told Cricinfo.
"We have spoken to Razzaq for a very long time, we wanted him in the team but will wait for the IPL rules," Ganguly told NDTV. "The issue of Pakistani players is between the IPL and government. We shall have to wait for the rules."
However, a Kolkata official contacted by Cricinfo offered a contrary point of view. "We had talks with him pre-auction and we had some paperwork subject to IPL rules and conditions," the official said. "The IPL included the Pakistani players in the auction list but our first priority then [during the auction] was to go for a fast bowler, so we went for Bond.
"Razzaq had, during this time, suffered a wrist injury and we are not so sure whether he has completely recovered from that. We have not approached him post-auction."
The news is also yet to be confirmed by the IPL and Razzaq's participation in this year's tournament will be subject to the league's rules on replacements. Since Kolkata have no free overseas spot, they can only sign up Razzaq as a replacement for an existing player on grounds of injury, and that will have to be cleared by the IPL board.
Kolkata's owner Shah Rukh Khan has openly expressed an interest in the allrounder but franchise officials say their slots are also filled up, though there is lingering concern over the fitness of Mashrafe Mortaza and, in particular, the knee problems that have kept him out of cricket since July last year.
That might not, however, preclude possible discussions between the franchise owner and Lalit Modi, the IPL commissioner. Modi denied knowledge of the development. "He [Razzaq] remains on the list of players available in case of replacements required," Modi told Cricinfo. "No one has approached me yet."
None of the 11 Pakistani players put up for the auction last week were bought by a franchise, sparking outrage in Pakistan over the perceived humiliation of its star players. The issue blew up into a broader concern, with both governments getting involved and Pakistan cancelling a trip across the border by a parliamentary delegation in protest.
Over the last few days, however, pressure has seemingly built within India over the matter; the home minister P Chidambaram criticised the move to not include any Pakistan players even after they were put up for auction and the sports minister MS Gill distanced the government from the matter. Shah Rukh Khan also expressed his dissatisfaction, although he said it was something about which little could be done.
Initial reports suggested Razzaq had been approached by the Deccan Chargers. "Verbal contact has been made by Deccan Chargers to Razzaq," Ijaz Butt, chairman PCB, told Cricinfo.
"Razzaq has spoken to me and I have said only when something comes from them officially, in writing, will I seek government advice on this. We will consult with the government on this before taking any decision as they have supported us well after what happened last week. It can't be just one player either. We have to see about the others."
Fidel Edwards, at the Deccan Chargers, is reportedly injured but the franchise emphatically denied making any approach to Razzaq, saying they have no slots left to take on another foreign player. "We don't have a slot to take on any player," Venkat Reddy, Deccan's chief executive, told NDTV. "We have already filled our slot and not approached any player. We already have Ryan Harris [as a replacement]."
Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo