Asif likely to return on Champions Trophy

KARACHI: Pakistan fast bowler Mohammad Asif seems to be on course for a return to the international fold ahead of the Champions Trophy. The PCB has asked Asif, 26, to report for a coaching camp for young players to gauge his fitness for the tournament, to be held in South Africa, as he completes a 12-month ban for a doping offence.

"Asif is attending the training camp for under-23 players in Karachi where we have asked camp commandant Rashid Latif to give us a report by August 20 whether he is match fit for the Champions Trophy," chief selector Iqbal Qasim told Reuters.

Qasim was satisfied with Asif's progress after he took 1 for 23 in the nine overs during a match at the PCB Under-23 Emerging Players camp at the National Stadium in Karachi. The performance would have done his chances of inclusion in the Champions Trophy squad no harm.

"He performed well in the match and apparently seems fit. There is still some time before the Champions Trophy and he can even go up by 5-10% in fitness by that time," Qasim said. "But the selection of players depends on the verdict of the complete selection committee,"

Qasim, however said, the board would not experiment when picking the team for the Champions Trophy. "The 15-member squad for Champions Trophy would be selected from the initial 30-man squad," he said.

Asif has not played any cricket since July last year and was banned last September by the PCB after testing positive for nandrolone while playing for the Delhi Daredevils in the IPL's first edition.

He will complete the ban on September 22, and has been okayed by the ICC to play in the Champions Trophy that starts on the same day in Johannesburg.

Asif has taken 51 wickets in 11 Tests at 23.13 and 36 in 31 ODIs at 33.27, but has also had his run-ins with the authorities over disciplinary issues. The PCB fined the fast bowler Rs 1 million last month after he was detained in Dubai last year for possessing opium.

The Pakistan selectors will meet in Lahore on August 20 after which they are expected to announce a 15-member squad the following day.