Disgraced pace bowler Mohammed Asif on Tuesday completed a 12-month ban, which was imposed on him for failing a dope test during inaugural Indian Premier League, but Pakistan team management is yet to decide about playing him in the Champions Trophy.
Although Asif is rearing to play in the eight-nation tournament in South Africa, where Pakistan will start their campaign by taking on the West Indies on Wednesday, team manager Yawar Saeed was yet to take a final call about Asif.
“That decision will be taken by the team management. We have to be absolutely sure that he is ready both mentally as well as physically for a comeback to international cricket,” Saeed said.
Asif will have his first official practice session with the national team today in Johannesburg, after which the tour selection committee will decide whether he is fit to play in the first match.
“If they feel that Asif is ready for his comeback then definitely it will be a big boost for the team as he is a quality bowler,” Saeed said.
Asif was banned last year by the IPL’s drugs inquiry tribunal for failing a dope test while playing for the Delhi Daredevils team, which also led to termination of his lucrative contract with the franchise.
“It has been hard 12 months for me, but I have learnt from my mistakes. I am grateful to the Pakistan Cricket Board, my teammates and my fans for really supporting me during the last one year despite the many disappointments I have given to them,” Asif said.
The pacer was not allowed by the International Cricket Council to train with the Pakistan team in the run-up to the tournament although the ICC gave permission to the PCB to include him in the Champions Trophy squad.
Asif insisted that he was eager to step back into the international arena and had trained hard during last one month for his comeback.
“I don’t think I could get a better platform than the Champions Trophy to make my comeback. And I have always liked bowling on the South African pitches,” Asif said.