Banned Azharuddin to lead Indian Senior squad

Published: Sunday, April 23, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Karachi:Former Indian captain Mohammad Azharuddin arrived here to feature in a senior cricket series between India and Pakistan. Azhar, banned for life on match-fixing charges in 2005, is leading an Indian Seniors side scheduled to play four one-day matches against their Pakistani counterparts.

Some 50 policemen escorted Azharuddin as he left the airport with his film-star wife Sangeeta Bijlani. Local officials refused to stop him playing with the Indian team.

"Azhar is invited by Pakistan Senior Cricket Board (PSCB) and it's up to Indian cricket authorities to stop or allow him play," Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Shaharyar Khan told, rejecting any link with the series.

"The seniors board is operating on their own and we have just supported them by allowing them to use the facilities at various grounds," he said.

Another former Indian player Manoj Prabhakar, who has completed a five-year ban for match-fixing, is part of the 14-man squad.

However, former Pakistan captain Salim Malik, who was barred after a separate inquiry here, has not been allowed to take part.

"We have not permitted Malik to feature in this series which comes in our domain," said Khan.

Malik lashed out at the Pakistan cricket authorities, accusing them of double standards.

"I have nothing to do with who is playing and who is not, but it's disappointing that there are dual policies in cricket," Malik told.

"It's unfortunate that my career came to an abrupt end and my appeal against the life ban is still pending. I demand that I be allowed to play at seniors' level," he said.

PSCB chairman Fawad Ijaz Alam earlier this week said Azharuddin had been cleared for senior cricket by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

But BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah later denied the claim, and said the board had no involvement in Azharuddin's visit to Pakistan.

Indian Seniors' first match is here today, followed by matches in Sialkot (April 25), Sheikhupura (April 27) and Lahore on April (30).

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