Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo
The ICC has approved the PCB's request to add Abdul Razzaq to replace one of its two injured players in the ongoing ICC World Twenty20. This makes Razzaq the first former ICL player returning to international cricket after being banned.
Ijaz Butt, the PCB chairman, had told Cricinfo that a request had been sent to the ICC's technical committee. "He is an allrounder and we've requested he replace Arafat, who is also an allrounder." A source close to the player also confirmed that Razzaq had been contacted by the board and apprised of the situation.
On the same day ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat confirmed the decision. "The PCB has advised the ICC it has imposed a sanction on Abdul Razzaq in accordance with the ICC Board resolution," he said.
While both Yasir Arafat and Sohail Tanvir are carrying injuries, Arafat's hamstring strain seems the more serious and Razzaq represented a like-for-like change in that he is an allrounder.
The Pakistan team manager, Yawar Saeed, said Arafat had been diagnosed with a lateral hamstring tear and would not play any further role in the tournament. News of Tanvir, who played with a back strain in the victory against Netherland yesterday, was better - he was back training with the rest of the squad at The Oval today.
Razzaq was one of several ex-ICL players granted amnesty by the PCB a few weeks back, shortly after the Indian board set the ball rolling for players to come in from the unofficial league. Other boards followed suit; some set a 'cooling off' period in place, while others like the PCB said they would handle each player on a case-by-case basis.
Ironically, Razzaq's name was on the original list of 30 probables the PCB had sent to the ICC in early April - before the BCCI announced the amnesty - but the board u-turned and scratched his name off because the ICC objected to his ICL status. And with more irony, the comeback completes a full circle of sorts for Razzaq: it was only after being overlooked for the 2007 World Twenty20 squad that he decided to turn his back on Pakistan cricket. He lambasted the team's set-up at the time, claiming he had been treated badly and then retired from international cricket, before taking back his announcement.
Pakistan will welcome back Razzaq's skills. He was one of the ICL's most valuable players, leading his franchise Hyderabad Heroes to the title in the first season and a runners-up spot the second time round. His form in the recently-concluded domestic Twenty20 was outstanding as well and limited-overs competitions in England hold special memories. It was in the 1999 World Cup that Razzaq first announced himself as a major talent, picking up a bundle of wickets and scoring some crucial runs, often at one down.