Bangalore: Former Pakistan all-rounder Azhar Mahmood, now a British passport holder, has been bought by Kings XI Punjab at Saturday's Indian Premier League players' auction in Bangalore.
Azhar, the first player of Pakistani origin to figure in the IPL since the first edition in 2008, was snapped up for $200,000.
Mahmood's name was cleared by the English Wales and Cricket Board (ECB) as he is a British passport holder.
Azhar is the first player of Pakistani origin to figure in the IPL since the first edition in 2008.
The 36-year-old played his last international match for Pakistan in 2007 and since then has been a regular on the County scene, first with Surrey and then with Kent.
He has also been branded as T20 specialist, having featured in 100-plus matches.
"Salaam all, very happy Alhumdulilah to be selected for IPL for KXIP thanks very much for your wishes and prayers. Looking forward to it," Mahmood tweeted soon after hearing the news.
"I would like to take this opportunity to thank the ECB and my Kent County club for being so accommodating and cooperative."
The Rawalpindi-born Azhar played 21 Tests - scoring 900 runs with three centuries and taking 39 wickets - and 143 one-day internationals - scoring 1,521 runs and taking 123 wickets - for Pakistan.
His first stint in England was in 2002 as an overseas pro for a month for Surrey and his impressive showing earned him a longer contract. He then applied for British citizenship after marrying his British wife.
He went on to sign for Kent in 2007 and at the end of the 2011 season, he signed for two more seasons. His Twenty20 hitting also earned him a call-up to the Auckland squad as their overseas pro this season and he has done well with the bat for them, hitting a century against Canterbury and 79 against Otago.
Former New Zealand captain and opening batsman Glenn Turner, however, curiously wondered whether Auckland did the right thing by hiring Azhar as their overseas import despite his good showing with the bat.
"Azhar Mahmood was certainly very successful with the bat. However, I wonder how necessary or productive it was for Auckland to go down that path.
"One of the arguments in favour of including an overseas player is to increase the chances of winning the domestic T20 competition and putting up a stronger showing at the Champions League."
"The problem is that India is likely to be the host country this year. In the case of Mahmood (with a Pakistani background), it would leave his admission to the tournament in doubt, irrespective of what passport he may be able to produce," Turner wrote in his column for stuff.co.nz.