ICL's loss is IPL's gain as Yousuf shifts loyality

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Lahore, Oct 3 (UNI) In a major coup d'etat of sort, the BCCI-backed Indian Premier League (IPL) has managed to rope in Pakistan's talismanic batsman Mohammad Yousuf from the ICL fold.

Yousuf, who has earlier signed up with the breakaway ICL, did a U-turn to ink a pact with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) last week.

Confirming the deal between the Pakistan's run machine and IPL, PCB chief Nasim Ashraf said after signing a central contract with the board last week, Yousuf also inked a contract to feature in the IPL.

Rejecting speculations that Yousuf might still play in the rebel league, Ashraf said, ''There is no way Yousuf is going to play in the ICL.

''Yousuf has signed a contract with the IPL and anybody who is saying that he will play in the ICL to avoid financial losses must know that the IPL will pay him handsomely,'' PCB chief told 'The News'.

The three million dollar prized IPL is scheduled to be launched by April next year and will feature eight franchises, back by corporate entities, in the first season. All the matches would be played on home and away basis. A total of 59 matches will be played in which both the semi-finals and the final will be played on the same day.

With Yousuf's inclusion in the BCCI's Twenty20 league, the BCCI league hogged the limelight from their opponent as many big names of world cricket such as the Indian trio of Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid along with champion spinner Anil Kumble, Aussie Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath, former Kiwi skipper Stephen Fleming, Lankan spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan and dasher Sanath Jayasuriya and captain Mahela Jayawardene had already joined the league.

When quized about Yousuf decision to pull out of the opening Test match against South Africa, Ashraf opined that ''Its the player who decided what was best for him and the team.'' ''Yousuf is an experienced cricketer. He became aware that he was not fully fit to play for five continuous days which is why he informed the team management about his decision to withdraw from the Test match.

''Yousuf said that he was pulling out to avoid suffering from an injury,'' Ashraf added.

He also pointed out that the national side cannot afford to lose their most prolific batsman at a time when they are playing a home series against South Africa followed by a tough India tour.

With an air of optimisim about Yousuf's availablity in the second Test Ashraf said, ''Yousuf is working hard with his trainer and we are all hoping that he will be fully fit in time to play in the second Test.'' UNI

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