Butt and Asif return from spot-fixing bans


Disgraced cricketers Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif each made their returns from five-year spot-fixing bans in Pakistan's domestic one-day cup on Sunday.

Butt and Asif helped Water and Power Development Authority to a 141-run victory over Federally Administered Tribal Areas in Hyderabad, the former striking 135 from the top of the order before Asif chipped in with two wickets.

For both men, the contest represented a first taste of competitive action since their participation in the infamous Lord's Test of 2010.

Butt, Pakistan's Test captain at the time, and Asif - together with Mohammad Amir - were implicated in a betting scam involving the deliberate bowling of no-balls at Lord's, with all three men subsequently banned by the ICC and sentenced to time in prison.

Amir was cleared to return to domestic cricket last January and has since been recalled to Pakistan's squad for upcoming limited-overs matches in New Zealand - a decision that has divided opinion.

After marking his comeback with a century, Butt expressed a willingness to put his tainted past behind him.

"This is the start and I hope that this is the new beginning," the 31-year-old opener is quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo.

"I thank my family, friends, coaches, my WADA team and all those well-wishers who supported me. Without their contribution it would not have happened.

"I was focused all through these years. I did a lot of work to keep myself in [the] best shape. Since I wasn't allowed to play cricket for registered clubs, I had been training at unregistered facilities and the result is there.

"I thank [Pakistan coach] Waqar [Younis] and other seniors, they have positive thoughts in their talk and this gives me more encouragement.

"There will be negative opinions as well and with respect to them I will not reply to them. My target is to work hard. I hope things will get better ... and things will fall into place finally."

Asif, 33, believes he can follow Amir in earning a Pakistan recall.

"This one-day tournament will help me gauge where I stand as far as bowling is concerned," added the seamer.

"International cricket is my target but I have to do well in the domestic matches before I can hope of international cricket."