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Haris Rauf makes unexpected return to Melbourne Stars

A gap in the quick bowler's schedule has opened up to allow him to head to Australia

Haris Rauf celebrates a wicket, Melbourne Stars v Sydney Thunder, Big Bash League, February 6, 2020

Haris Rauf was a breakout star in the BBL last season  •  Getty Images

Melbourne Stars have re-signed Pakistan quick Haris Rauf on the day of the Stars' first match of the season against the Brisbane Heat in Canberra.
The Stars had initially ruled out the possibility of Rauf returning to the BBL due to Pakistan duty and they brought back Dilbar Hussain, who played one match late last season when Rauf returned briefly to Pakistan to make his international debut.
Rauf was the most remarkable story of BBL09 taking 20 wickets in 10 games including a hat-trick and a five-wicket haul. His form led to his call-up to the Pakistan side and he has been a regular in their limited-overs squads this year and is currently in New Zealand for upcoming the T20I series.
The Stars are hopeful he will be available in January but it is possible for him to play in their two matches between Christmas and New Year. Rauf won't need to quarantine and will arrive with Pakistan team-mate Imad Wasim who has signed with the Melbourne Renegades.
"Initially we understood Pakistan commitments would rule Haris out of this year's tournament," Stars general manager Nick Cummins said. "In the last week, we were advised there was an opportunity for Haris to join us again. With his outstanding performances last year and great connection with our fans, we moved pretty quickly to make it happen."
Rauf said he was thrilled to come back to the BBL. "I'm very happy that I can come back to the Melbourne Stars this season and play at the MCG again.
"It was an unbelievable journey last season and changed my life in so many ways. The Stars fans were very supportive of me and I can't wait to play in front of them again. The support of all the Pakistan community in Melbourne was fantastic and hopefully, we can put in some big performances this season."
The Stars have had to shuffle their overseas signings at short notice. They called in West Indian Andre Fletcher, who was in New Zealand, after Jonny Bairstow was withdrawn due to England duty. Nicholas Pooran is still in New Zealand playing with West Indies A. Zahir Khan is in quarantine and is unavailable for the first two games after his initial flight to Australia was cancelled forcing him to arrive nine days.