Mohammad Asif's return to international cricket will be temporarily derailed as the Pakistan board clarified that he will not be travelling with the team to Abu Dhabi and Dubai for the ODI and Twenty20 series against New Zealand in November.
Asif was deported from the UAE last year, having spent 19 days in detention at Dubai Airport, after he was found to be in possession of a small amount of opium. Though criminal charges were not pressed - reportedly after high-level contacts between the government of Pakistan and the UAE monarchy - the court order called for his immediate deportation and banned him from entering the UAE until further notice.
The PCB had been trying to clarify what the situation was now that Asif is once again available for selection - following completion of a year-long ban for another doping offense last year - but has been told by authorities that he is not allowed back in. "Asif cannot play in the UAE," Ijaz Butt, the PCB chairman, said. "We checked with authorities in UAE what his position was and we can confirm that he cannot play there. If he goes there he will be arrested."
The situation leaves Pakistan in a quandary: following terrorist attacks on the Sri Lankan team in March this year, international cricket is unlikely to return to Pakistan till 2011. Till that time, it is likely Pakistan will play a number of 'home' series at neutral venues in the UAE. For the time being, however, they will have to make do without the services of one of their leading fast bowlers.