Friday, August 21, 2009

Pakistan's Champions Trophy Squad Announced: Mohammad Asif is Back!

Dope tainted fast bowler, Mohammad Asif, will don the Pakistan colors again during the Champions Trophy that will be held in South Africa next month.

Asif, who was banned for a year by the IPL's Drugs Tribunal, will have his ban lifted a day before the Champions Trophy kicks off.

That resulted in Pakistan announcing him first in the 30 probables, and now in their 15-man squad for the event.

Asif has not played any official cricket since the IPL in 2008.

His last international cricket match was an ODI against Bangladesh in April 2008.

During this 17 month lay-off, Asif has not appeared for any domestic team, or played any cricket match whatsoever.

Considering that, his selection raises more than just a few eyebrows.

Is he the same bowler he was before he was banned?

Is he match-fit?

Is he even fit to begin with?

Is the PCB sure that there is no nandronolone in his body any more?

The Champions Trophy is an ICC event so he will surely be tested, no matter how random the tests are.

For the last week or so, Asif had been training at a camp in Karachi, with an Under-23 squad, that was being over looked by Rashid Latif.

The Pakistan selectors had requested Rashid to send them a fitness report on Asif, following which Iqbal Qasim & Co. gave him the go ahead.

Forget the eyebrows that will be raised due to his selection; think about what else will be raised when one figures that Asif comes into Pakistan's squad at the expense of Abdul Razzaq!

Razzaq made an impressive return to international cricket during the World Twenty20; I reckon he played an instrumental part in Pakistan's victory in the tournament.

And just due to a few lacklustre ODI performances against Sri Lanka, he finds himself dropped.

That too for a bowler who has been found guilty of substance abuse, not once but twice!

If Razzaq has been excluded based on his performance in the ODIs in Sri Lanka, then why are Mohammad Yousuf, Misbah, and Shoaib Malik still in the squad?

There was a lot of speculation around all 3 players due to their recent indifferent ODI form, but all 3 find a place in the plane to South Africa.

Besides Asif, the only change to the ODI squad that played in Sri Lanka is the exclusion of Nasir Jamshed.

That leaves Imran Nazir as the only specialist opener in the 15-man squad.

Sometimes I wonder what these Pakistan selectors smoke.

Even 7 men could not sit down and bring up the courage to drop a couple of senior batsmen who are way past their best; nor did they have the balls to name a few promising youngsters; nor a back up opener!

What they did though was bring back a doper and dropped an allrounder who was just finding his feet again in international cricket.

They never cease to amaze me.

Pakistan's Champions Trophy Squad: Younis Khan, Misbah Ul Haq, Mohammad Yousuf, Shoaib Malik, Imran Nazir, Umar Akmal, Fawad Alam, Shahid Afridi, Kamran Akmal, Mohammad Asif, Mohammad Aamer, Umar Gul, Rana Naved, Saeed Ajmal, Rao Iftikhar Anjum

Make your pitch on this post...

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29 Pitched:

  1. SledgeHammer said...

    Great to have Asif back.

    But Razzaq dropped for Rana? Perhaps the training camp knows more, but I would have gone with Razzaq.

    Either way, a decent team. But a tough group for Pakistan!

    The tournament is important to determine the health of ODI cricket. Should be fun.

  2. LiB said...


    Razaq is out because of Rana, that is what Iqbal Qasim said at the press conferance when announcing the squad, he went on to say that we wanted a bowling allrounder, and at the moment Rana brings better variety to the bowling than Razaq.

    He also mentioned that Imran nazir, Kamran Akmal & Shoiab Malik will fill the roles of openers in the team! atleast they are thinking about opening with Malik, but i dont see it happenning!

  3. Husha said...

    If they can bring Asif back, can't they bring Shoaib Akhtar back too? If both these players were in top form like before...imagine how strong our side would be! *wishful thinking*

    But I seriously can't believe Abdul Razzaq was dropped. Sad news for the biggest Razzaq fan in the world :(

  4. shahbaz said...

    they should drop anjum instead of razaq man.

  5. Stani Army said...

    I think Rashid Latif is a tough, no nonsense kind of guy so I trust his judgement. I think had he seen anything not up to standard, attitude included, he would have told the PCB to forget about Asif. If Asif does play and it is found he is not fit, then it would be Latif's reputation and trust which is tarnished. I don't think Latif would risk that.

    As for the Razzaq axing; I think there's no point taking Fawad because he will not be used. If the choice was two from Razzaq, Asif and Fawad, I would have taken Razzaq and Asif. It is a small squad for a short tournament and Shoaib Malik covers Fawad's abilities well should they be needed. It's nothing against Fawad, it's just that he won't be used even if there is one injury as I think he'd be 3rd choice replacement because I can't see Misbah and Malik in the side together and he will be behind them. Hence, it would have been better to keep Razzaq instead of Fawad in case something happens to Rana. This all-rounder roll (i.e fast bowler all-rounder) is key in our team so it is there we should have had the back up and not in the spinner all-rounder roll. Doesn't make sense to me. If Rana gets injured our team will be seriously weakened because we have no like for like replacement in Razzaq.

    I think they were right to keep Yusuf, Misbah and Malik because we don't have anyone better.

  6. Som said...

    On two grounds, the selectors have risked incurring egg all over their face -- doping and non-performance.

    Is Asif so exceptional that you take the risk of fielding even if you can't remember when he played his last match?

    Or is the current attack so toothless that you have no option but pencil in Asif?

    Interesting and risky proposition. No doubt.

  7. Anonymous said...

    A drug addict is back. Wish what his influence would be on Aamer and Fawad. that anyone is above the law. he can do anything and get away with it.

    i m sure pakistan fast bowling riches are far too good than to go back to Rana and Asif.

    Still as long as that old man is there, this kind of things would keep happening.

  8. Captain^ said...

    Hello All,

    Excuse me for my ignorance, but Asif is back after aerving a year's ban, and that was the case for Shane Warne as well ? I mean, yes what they did was wrong but if the governing bodies think they should not be forgiven.. why dont they incur a permanent ban on anyone found guilty ?

    If im not wrong, a few months ago i read a swimmer tested positive for 'dope' and was just given a 3 month suspension to discourage him from doing the same again. i agree what Asif did was wrong but if every other country supports their drug addicted sportmen, why can't we ?

  9. Unknown said...

    Wow..Pakistani's do have short memories. And you can always count on Sam to come up with something to say against Pakistan. Have we forgotten how amazing Asif was? I mean, seriously, are we that fickle? Q, I think I read it on your blog that Razzaq does not have the legs to play ODI's anymore, so why are you so upset over him being dropped. Rana did very well in Srilanka and he has been rewarded for his performances. If Razzaq was just finding his feet at the international level again, what about Rana? Is'nt he finding his feet at the same level? And he did better than Razaq, so you guys have an issue with the inform player getting selected over an out of form player?

    As far as Asif is concerned, he has been playing regularly for the NCA Academy team for a year, so he should be in shape. There will naturally be some rust at the international level, but that will go away soon.

    Agree with you over the opener issue, we should have had atleast one of either Butt or Shehzad. MoYo was selected unfortunately, but I do think that everybody knows his days are numbered in the ODI's. SO, he will be dropped soon enough. We should keep Misbah though because otherwise there will be too many kids in our middle order.

    I think overall the team is strong, I dont really care much about this tournament. I think it is taking its last breaths.

  10. Q said...


    With the new format and only 8 teams I think it'll be cut throat.. will be fun definitely!

    Rana did better than Razzaq in Lanka, that's why I guess.

  11. Q said...


    You're right, Qasim did say that. However, when I posted this I had not heard or read what Qasim said so I just assumed that Asif was back and replaced Razzak in the squad.. I guess Asif was always going to be there so the choice between Rana and Razzak..

    I would have still liked to see Razzak there..

    I don't c Malik opening at all!

  12. Q said...


    Shoaib is unfit.. I don't think he's out for any other reason .. he dpoesn't have it anymore to bowl 10 overs in ODIs..

  13. Q said...


    Though Anjum does not look like the typical fast pacer from Pakistan, he did well in the Lankan ODIs, incuding the 5 wkt haul.

  14. Q said...


    Ur right abt Rashid.. he is a no nonsense guy but I feel despite the report, Asif would have been taken back.. they just wanted him.

    As for Fawad Alam, he deserves to be there.. if the choice was between Rana and Razzaq then based on Lanka, Rana deserved the nod..

    As for the middle order.. we have some new good faces playing an A series in Sri Lanka.. and earlier in Australia.. Misbah and Yousuf wil noit be around in 2011 and maybe we need to groom some youngsters starting from now..

  15. Q said...


    Well the current attack is a bit toothless.. besides Aamer u don't really have a pacer u can count on to take wickets.. Rana has just come back and Gul has been off color.. has someone made a mark during Asif's absence it would have been difficult for him to come back.. but unfortunately no one did.

  16. Q said...


    He is not an addict.

    And what effect diod Warne have on other Aussies?

  17. Q said...


    I don't mind Asif returning to the team but I feel his inclusion has been rushed.. he should have been asked to play some cricket at the domestic level to prove his match fitness and also show that he was the same bowler he was before he was banned.

  18. Q said...


    My memory is alright.. my issue was not with the dope taint but rather with the lack of competitive cricket Asif has played over the last 18 months.. ast the NCA he was training, no0t playing for them.. he was banned for all cricket, hence could not play..

    I'd be more than happy to see him perform again..

    As for Razzaq, ur right.. I did say that but I felt he did alright in Lanka.. yes Rana did better but Razzaq did not deserve to be dropped..

  19. Sam said...

    what do you call somebody who is caught for drugs 2 times within 2 years ?

    innocent or addict ?

    How should a man play a big trophy who hasnt played any competitive cricket in year's time ?

  20. Unknown said...


    If you check Irfan's blogs, you would see that Asif was indeed playing for the NCA Academy team against different club sides. Irfan and Asif were leading those attacks together. If we go by the logic you are presenting, then the entire Pakistan team should not have been selected for the T20 because none of them had played a whole lot of international cricket in the past year. Asif was with the team in their pre-T20 camp, he has been playing for the NCA Academy Team and he was also at the U23 Camp, so he should be as fit as one can be without playing international cricket. And really, that is all you can ask from the guy, he has done the best he could given the circumstances.

    As far as Sam's point goes, have you ever wondered if it is at all possible that the drugs he took the first time might have taken a while to leave his body?

    Btw, I can't believe I am defending Asif over here. I was, and still am, a huge believer that he has brought great shame to our country.

    What I have a problem with is that people are doubting his ability, he is arguably the best bowler of his generation. The guy was banned for an entire year, he got cursed and abused (rightly so) from every angle, so I think he has paid his dues. I am willing to support him one last time.

  21. Unknown said...

    As far as the Razaq/Rana debate is concerned, there can only be 15 or 16 people in a squad, so somebody was going to get dropped. I am not saying that Razaq is not a good player, all I am saying is that Rana deserves that one spot they put aside for an all rounder more than Razaq. Razaq should've been in the squad along with Rana, maybe instead of MoYo. And, the Imran Nazir experiment will end like it always does, in disappointment.

  22. Pakistani Blogger said...

    "Is he match fit? Is the PCB sure that there is no nandronolone in his body any more?" - LOL just starting to read your blog but if this the sort of stuff you post king cricket better watch out!

    "Sometimes I wonder what these Pakistan selectors smoke." - Maybe the selectors need to be tested for illegal substances :)

    Pakistan selections have never made any sense. Selecting Asif is actually a sign of desperation more than anything else.

    Not every youngster you try out will turn out to be an Aamer. For every Aamer you might have 3-4 average bowlers. So Pakistan need to start giving more younger players a chance.

  23. Unknown said...

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  24. Q said...


    Im not saying he is innocent.. definitely guilty for getting caught with drugs twice but he has served his punishment.. his ban is over and now he's back.. if he gest caught again he will be banned, otherwise he will continue to play..

  25. Q said...


    I agree with what your saying..every point that u have made regarding Asif's return is valid and I will also support him yet again once he's back cos as u said he is the best bowler of this generation for Pakistan.. I just hope he does not let me down again the way shoaib akhtar has done over and over again!

  26. Q said...

    Pakistani Blogger,

    Welcome to Well Pitched. And thanx for the comment.

    You are right, we need mopre youngsters but I don't think there are many talented ones as far as pace bowling is concerned.. there r some around in the academies and they should make their way thru in time...

  27. Q said...


    Can u give my IRfan's blog URL pls.

  28. Unknown said...

    fawad alam n rao iftikhar should have been left .slim chances of pak winning without razzaqn shoaib akhtar

  29. Unknown said...

    pakistani selectors r chutiya n bastards

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