Yousuf still keen to play for Pakistan

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New Delhi, Nov 6 (UNI) Disappointed over the ban imposed on him by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for joining the ICL, star batsman Mohammad Yousuf said he was still keen to play for his country despite signing up with the rebel Twenty20 league in India.

Yousuf was all set to make a comeback into the national squad in next week's three match series against the West Indies in Abu Dhabi after missing a Twenty20 event in Canada last month because of visa problems.

The 34-year-old's name featured in the 15-man squad announced on Monday, but shortly afterwards it was revealed that he had signed for the Indian Cricket League (ICL).

''I had a misunderstanding with the ICL. Now that has been sorted out and I will play for them,'' Yousuf told mediapersons here yesterday.

''But I still want to play for my country. This matter is in the hands of the (Pakistan) board, if I get a call-up, I will definitely represent the country.'' The PCB has a strict policy of banning all players who have joined the unofficial ICL, which is backed by India's largest media group, Zee television.

About 15 Pakistani players, including former captain Inzamam-ul Haq, who had joined the league last year, were barred from playing in international and national cricket by the PCB.

The veteran batsman, Yousuf, whose 1,788 runs in 2006 is a calendar-year record, previously signed a contract with the ICL after he was omitted from Pakistan's Twenty20 World Cup squad in September last year.

However, the PCB was able to convince him to tear up the contract and instead sign with the official Indian Premier League (IPL).

For which, the ICL filed a legal case against Yousuf in Mumbai for breach of contract while the IPL also threatened to take him to court.

On this, ICL business head Himanshu Mody has said they had dropped the case against Yousuf. ''We have settled the case with Yousuf. We have signed him for a three-year deal.'' Mody also claimed that the IPL could not take Yousuf to court because the batsman had not inked any deal with them.

''Yousuf has not taken any money from the IPL. There was no agreement between the two, so the IPL cannot take any action against him. However, if something does come up, we will stand by Yousuf,'' Mody said.

Yousuf, part of the Lahore Badshah team, will make his ICL debut in Ahmedabad on Saturday with a match against Dhaka Warriors, which comprises players from Bangladesh.

The veteran player has played 79 Tests and 269 One-day Internationals for Pakistan since making his debut in 1998.

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