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'Azhar in Pak with PCB consent'

The Pak Senior Cricket Board gave a new twist to the Veteran Cup controversy, claiming it was the PCB which allowed Azharuddin and Prabhakar to play in Pakistan.

india Updated: Apr 23, 2006 14:09 IST

The Pakistan Senior Cricket Board gave a new twist to the Veteran Cup controversy, claiming it was the Pakistan Cricket Board which allowed Mohammad Azharuddin and Manoj Prabhakar to play in Pakistan.

"The Pakistan High Commission granted visas to the entire Indian cricket team, including Azharuddin and Prabakar, to travel to Pakistan for the one-day matches on the advice of the PCB, PSCB president and chief executive Fawad Ijaz told a news conference.

Azharuddin, a former Indian captain who played 99 Tests and 334 one-day internationals, is serving a life ban from playing Tests and first class cricket for his alleged involvement in match-fixing while Prabhakar was slapped with a five-year ban in 2000.

"When we applied for the no-objection certificate with the PCB, the names of the Indian team were clearly stated. The PCB issued us the NOC on the basis of which the Indians were issued visas in New Delhi," Ijaz said.

"Issuing of the NOC, followed up New Delhi granting visas clarifies that the entire Indian team is here with the permission and knowledge of the PCB."

Ijaz's remark came in the wake of PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan disassociating his establishment from Azharuddin and Prabhakar's visit.

"The senior cricket board is operating on their own and they have invited Azharuddin and Prabhakar. The senior board is not affiliated with the PCB so they are holding this series on their own," Shaharyar had said.

Ijaz further refuted claims that PSCB was not a affiliated unit of the PCB.

"We are an affiliated unit of the PCB. Probably Mr Shaharyar doesn't know it because we got the affiliation in 1999 during the tenure of Mr Mujeeb-ur-Rehman."

Shaharyar is the fourth PCB chairman since 1999 and assumed office on December 15, 2004.

Meanwhile, former Pakistan leg-spinner Abdul Qadir sympathised with Azharuddin who remained India's second most successful captain.

"It's sad that Azharuddin became a victim of circumstances.

"I mean Wasim Akram, Saeed Anwar, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Mushtaq Ahmed and Ijaz Ahmed were heavily fined for their involvement in match-fixing but they continued to play Test cricket," the former magician spinner said.

"I know many other cricketers who were involved in corruption but I don't want to open old wounds."

He urged the followers of the game to forget the past and instead of further humiliating these stalwarts, should take pleasure in whatever they can offer now.

"They still have the flair and class, and we should enjoy that instead of continuing our hatred towards them."

Meanwhile, Azharuddin has said he has given up hopes of playing for India but was fighting his case in the court of law to get his name cleared from match-fixing.

"I have no hopes of playing for India. But I want to get my name cleared. I am expecting that the final hearing of my case will be in May before the judgment is announced," Azharuddin said.

Azhar was slapped with a life ban while Prabhakar, also involved in the scandal, was banned for five years in 2000. The court has already exonerated Ajay Jadeja who was earlier banned for life by the Indian Cricket Board.

The former India captain, however, refused to comment on whether he was made a scapegoat by the BCCI.

"The matter is sub-judice and I cannot comment on that but I firmly believe that the whole issue was blown out of proportion," Azhar said.

"I was destined to play 99 Tests, that's the way I look at it. If I can play 99 Tests, I could have played one more," he said when asked if he was deliberately prevented by the BCCI from achieving a personal milestone.

However, Azharuddin, said he cannot be banned from cricketing activities.

"I don't need any permission from anyone to play charity or veteran's cricket. I cannot play in BCCI or ICC approved or sanctioned tournaments. Veterans' cricket is a different body that is neither controlled nor governed by the BCCI or ICC," Azharuddin said.

"No constitution in the world can stop me from my earning my livelihood and cricket is my livelihood."

Azhar said coaching option remained open for him but at the moment he was concentrating on his business.

"I can remain associated with cricket in whichever capacity I want because the embargo is on playing cricket and not on coaching or doing commentary.

"I have worked for a television channel in the past and if I get a good offer, I would do it again," Azharuddin said with reference to ICC's decision of not giving him accredition as commentator during the 2003 ICC Champions Trophy held in Sri Lanka.

Azhar said he was happy to be back in Pakistan.

"My last visit to Pakistan was in 1997 and it's a nice opportunity to visit friends, relatives and play cricket with those I have played before."

Azhar admitted that too much cricket was being played now as compared to when he was wearing the India cap.

"The demands of cricket have increased. It is taxing for the cricketers but cricket hasn't changed much I think."