Barring Azhar Mahmood, who is a British passport holder, Pakistan cricketers haven't been allowed to play in the cash-rich Indian Premier League for the last four years. So, when a player from across the border turns out in a club tournament in Delhi, eyebrows will naturally be raised.
Pakistan batsman Shoaib Malik's played a match for Hargopal CC on June 5, at the Modern School ground on Barakhamba Road, and scored 26 runs. He arrived on the morning of June 5, after playing a Twenty20 match against Sri Lanka the previous night.
Malik is married to Indian tennis player Sania Mirza, who recently won the French Open mixed doubles title with Mahesh Bhupathi.
Matters got complicated as the Delhi and Districts Cricket Association (DDCA) was not informed about Malik's participation for Hargopal CC against Sporting Club in the Lala Raghubir Hot Weather (40-over) one-day tournament.
"This is news to us that Pakistan cricketer Shoaib Malik has played in a DDCA affiliated tournament. We haven't received any prior intimation from the state association that a foreign cricketer is playing in an Indian club level tournament. The BCCI has already made it a rule that no foreign cricketer is allowed in any domestic tournament (barring the IPL)," a senior BCCI official said on conditions of anonymity.
When DDCA secretary S P Bansal was contacted, he seemed ignorant of the BCCI diktat.
"We never had an idea that we need to seek BCCI permission for Malik's inclusion in Lala Raghubir Trophy. In fact, he played in another tournament in Delhi last year and there no permission was sought then," Bansal explained.
The rule of not allowing any foreign players in local leagues and invitation tournaments is in effect since the last three years.
Incidentally, before the BCCI diktat, Sri Lankan pacer Chaminda Vaas played for Mohun Bagan in CAB's JC Mukherjee T20 tournament in 2009, while Bangaldesh spinner Mohammed Rafique played for Kalighat in an A N Ghosh Trophy final against Sporting Union in 2008.