|Yousuf was blamed for being a 'bad influence' on the team [GALLO/GETTY]
The Pakistan Cricket Board banned former captains Younus Khan and Mohammad Yousuf indefinitely from the national team – before suddenly changing their minds.
An inquiry conducted into Pakistan's poor performance on January's tour of Australia found them guilty of being a "bad influence" on the team on Wednesday.
In a strongly-worded statement, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said: "Mohammed Yousuf and Younus Khan's... attitude has a trickledown effect which is a bad influence for the whole team (and they) should not be part of the national team in any format."
PCB Chairman Ijaz Butt appeared to leave no way back, thundering: "We are going to stick to these decisions we have taken…the fact is the former players and cricket community has supported our strong action."
But the disciplinary clampdown on players brought protesters out in Hyderabad city where they burned bats and held a demonstration.
And a few hours later, the PCB onc more opened the doors to the ex-captains.
"The PCB wishes to clarify that the recommendation of the committee is not a life ban on these cricketers," the PCB's second statement of the day said.
"There is no specified term in the recommendation for these two players. As and when the PCB deems appropriate, these players will be considered for selection for the national team."
The PCB also imposed one-year bans on players Shoaib Malik and Rana Naved following recommendations of the inquiry, which took place after Pakistan's unsuccessful tour in December and January.
Several other players received fines.
Pakistan had a dismal tour in Australia, losing every match in their three-Test, five one-day and Twenty20 series.
An inquiry committee was set up after rumours of divisions in the team, and consisted of PCB chief operating officer Wasim Bari, board member Wazir Ali Khoja, director of cricket operations Zakir Khan, team manager Yawar Saeed and legal officer Taffazul Rizvi.
The inquiry found that both Yousuf and Younus were involved in infighting while on tour, which resulted in bringing down the whole team, the PCB said in a statement.
|Younus was said to have argued with his successor Yousuf [GALLO/GETTY]
Malik and Naved were also fined $23,500, wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal was handed a fine of $35,200 and Umar Akmal, younger brother of Kamran, was fined $23,500.
Shahid Afridi was fined $35,200 for ball tampering during the one-day series against Australia.
Afridi and both Akmal brothers received a probation of six months during which their conduct will be strictly monitored.
The players who were handed suspensions and fines appeared before the committee while other team officials – former coach Intikhab Alam, assistant coach Aaqib Javed, the then manager Abdul Raqeeb, physiotherapist Faisal Hayat and analyst Mohammad Talha - were also interviewed.
"All the recommendations of the inquiry committee were unanimous,'' Taffazul Rizvi said.
Before the climbdown, former captain Inzamam-ul-Haq was scathing of the decision.
"Why was action not taken earlier against these players? Why did the board keep quiet for so long when the team was on tour?" Inzamam said.
Both Yousuf and Younus have led Pakistan in international cricket over the last 12 months.
Younus replaced Shoaib Malik early last year after Pakistan lost their one-day home series to Sri Lanka. Pakistan also went on to win the Twenty20 World Cup in England under Younus.
However, Younus left the captaincy soon after losing to New Zealand in the one-day series in the UAE due to poor batting form, allegedly saying that players were not co-operating.
Yousuf took over the captaincy for the tours of New Zealand and Australia, but Pakistan's decline continued as they lost all their matches against Australia after drawing the two-Test series against New Zealand 1-1.
Rana and Malik were an integral part of Pakistan's Twenty20 team, but will now miss next month's Twenty20 World Cup in the West Indies.
The initial decision by the PCB left new head coach Waqar Younis shocked and left to try and rebuild a side for the defence of their World Twenty20 title in West Indies in April.
"I will be talking to the board about this and see what happens," Younis said in Australia.
The selectors are due to meet this week to announce the 15-member squad for the World Cup and the board will also announce a new captain.
While Yousuf and Younis were not named in the preliminary squad of 30 players for the event, Malik and Rana were.
"I want to know what I did wrong," Rana told Reuters.
"I will be consulting with my people before deciding any future line of action."