Four Pakistan players have been cleared for visas by the Indian ministry of external affairs, possibly paving the way for their return to the IPL in 2010. The final call on whether or not they actually participate, it appears, will now be taken by the league, which had earlier ruled out the participation of Pakistan's players as they had not obtained their visa clearances by December 7, the extended deadline.

Kamran Akmal, Umar Gul, Misbah-ul-Haq and Sohail Tanvir all applied for visas - the first three in Wellington, where they are involved in a Test series, and Tanvir in Islamabad - and Ijaz Butt, chairman PCB, confirmed that clearance had been granted. "Yes the visa clearance has been granted for four of them, three in New Zealand and one in Islamabad," Butt told Cricinfo.

The board will now contact Lalit Modi, the IPL commissioner, and hope "that he considers this latest development," Butt said. The league had already granted two deadline extensions to the PCB to have its players cleared to take part, though no word has so far come on whether another might be granted now.

Butt has fought hard to get his players back into the IPL after they were prevented by their own government from playing in the second season, a fallout of a deterioration in political ties between India and Pakistan after the Mumbai attacks of 2008. He met Modi in October to begin finding a way back for the players.

There is no clarity, however, on the situation of Abdul Razzaq, who is currently in Dhaka; he is believed to have signed up with Kolkata Knight Riders but is the only one of the group who hasn't played in the IPL. Akmal and Tanvir, with Rajasthan Royals, Gul with Kolkata and Misbah with Bangalore Royal Challengers, all have contracts already in place, which stood "suspended" over the last year.

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo