Pakistan retain Asif

Karachi, September 30

Pakistan on Wednesday announced they would retain off-spinning all-rounder Bilal Asif for the one-day series against Zimbabwe to assess his potential ahead of next month’s series against England.

The 30-year-old was not played in the two T20 match series which Pakistan won 2-0 in Harare on Tuesday. The three ODIs start from Thursday. Chief selector Haroon Rasheed said Test captain Misbah-ul-Haq wanted to see Asif in action ahead of the three-Test series against England in the UAE.

“The request to retain Asif had been made by the team management and in a separate discussion with Misbah, we decided to assess Asif as another spinning option against England,” Rasheed was quoted as saying in a Pakistan Cricket Board release.

Pakistan already have leg-spinner Yasir Shah and left-armer Zulfiqar Babar in their 15-man squad for England Tests which begin in Abu Dhabi on October 13. A spin-heavy Pakistan attack was inevitable after their 3-0 rout of England, then ranked No 1, the last time the two sides met in the UAE three years ago.

Off-spinner Saeed Ajmal took 24 wickets while left-armer Abdur Rehman nabbed 19 wickets. Ajmal was not selected for the upcoming series as he continues to struggle with a remodelled bowling action he was forced to devise after being suspended for chucking last year.

“Misbah suggested that Asif should be assessed in case we intend to add him as the 16th man in against England,” Rasheed added.

The other two Tests will be played in Dubai (October 22-26) and Sharjah (November 1-5), followed by four ODI and three T20Is.