The Melbourne Stars have received a major boost with talismanic Pakistan quick Haris Rauf cleared to appear for them in the Big Bash League.
Rauf's decision to opt out of his nation's upcoming Test series in Australia to play in the BBL earned the ire of his country's cricket officials.
Reports out of Pakistan last week suggested the 30-year-old would be blocked from travelling to Australia in what would have been a massive blow for the Stars and the competition.
But Rauf, and fellow countrymen Zaman Khan and Usama Mir, have finally been issued no-objection certificates (NOCs) by the Pakistan Cricket Board.
However, Rauf has so far only been cleared for five games.
"The PCB understands that this decision is in the best interests of all the stakeholders involved while balancing the importance of game time with workload management," a PCB statement read.
"All these games are set to take place from 7 to 28 December."
After missing the last edition of the BBL, Rauf committed to the Stars for this campaign after becoming a fan favourite at the club during the 2019-20 season.
Rauf has played only one Test, sustaining an injury after bowling just 13 overs in Rawalpindi last December against England.
In his fourth BBL game, in January 2020, Rauf became an instant cult hero when he claimed a hat-trick against Sydney Thunder.
Excited by his expected return, the Stars are selling 'House of Rauf' memberships to capitalise on the player's popularity.
"The club's a very loyal club with the players we get in. He's fantastic around the group, a star performer at the MCG," Stars opener Joe Burns told AAP.
"I know the fans will be looking forward to coming out and supporting him."
The Stars will face the Brisbane Heat at the Gabba in the opening game of the BBL on Thursday night.
The BBL will begin without the top-two picks in the draft after the withdrawal of Englishman Harry Brook (Stars) and Afghanistan superstar Rashid Khan (Adelaide Strikers).
Australian Associated Press