Pakistan recall Asif for Champions Trophy

Karachi: Pakistan on Friday recalled controversial paceman Mohammad Asif but omitted experienced all-rounder Abdul Razzaq from their 15-man squad for next month’s Champions Trophy.

Pakistan on Friday recalled controversial paceman Mohammad Asif but omitted experienced all-rounder Abdul

Pakistan, who were originally to host the tournament before it was moved over security fears, are in Group A of the eight-nation event, to be held in South Africa from September 22 to October 5.

Asif was brought back in following a one-year ban, due to expire on September 22, having proved his fitness to selectors during practice matches earlier this month.

The ban was imposed after the 26-year-old failed a dope test in the inaugural season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) last year.

Chief selector Iqbal Qasim said Asif was ready to go.

“Asif is back after he satisfied with his fitness and this is the best possible team for an event which is regarded as the toughest of all the events as the world’s top eight teams compete in it,” Qasim told reporters in Lahore.

Asif, who burst onto the scene in 2005, has been one of Pakistan cricket’s most colourful characters.

He hit the headlines for the wrong reasons in 2006 when, along with controversial fellow paceman Shoaib Akhtar, he tested positive for the banned steroid nandrolone.

Akhtar was banned for two years and Asif for one year, but the bans were overturned on appeals.
Asif was also detained at Dubai airport for 19 days while returning from India after featuring in the IPL in 2008.

He was found in possession of opium but Dubai police deported him after they found the quantity of the drug was “insufficient” to make a case.

Razzaq, 29, struggled for fitness during Pakistan’s tour of Sri Lanka earlier this month, the visitors losing the Tests 2-0 and one-day series 3-2.

“We had a tie between Razzaq and Rana Naved-ul Hasan when it came to selecting an all-rounder, so the best one was picked. It was not a case of Razzaq not performing well,” said Qasim.

Pakistan will also be without Akhtar, omitted from the initial squad of 30 last month after he failed a fitness test.

Pakistan play the West Indies (September 23), India (September 26) and Australia (September 30).

Hosts South Africa, England, New Zealand and Sri Lanka form Group B.

The top two teams from each group qualify for the semi-finals.

Squad: Younus Khan (capt), Imran Nazir, Misbah-ul-Haq, Umer Akmal, Shoaib Malik, Shahid Afridi, Rana Naved-ul Hasan, Fawad Alam, Mohammad Yousuf, Kamran Akmal, Umar Gul, Mohammad Aamir, Mohammad Asif, Rao Iftikhar, Saeed Ajmal

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