Asif aims to conquer Kiwis in comeback series

KARACHI: A rejuvenated Mohammad Asif vowed on Saturday that he would make up for the lost time with an emphatic showing in the three-match Test series against New Zealand starting in Dunedin from Tuesday.

The Pakistani fast bowler, who returned to international cricket in the ICC Champions Trophy after serving a one-year ban for doping, said that the sabbatical has proved to be a blessing in disguise for him, adding that he is now itching to make his Test return.

“I’m sad for having lost almost two years of my career because in modern day cricket, fast bowlers do not normally have long careers,” he told Deutsche Welle Urdu service in an interview. “But I must also say that the break came as a blessing in disguise for me as it has helped me to overcome my fitness problems,” he said.

Asif, 26, last played a Test against South Africa at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore more than two years ago before injury and drug scandals forced him out of international cricket.

“I was suffering from an elbow Injury at that time. Had I not rested that long may be my career would have been over. Now I am fully fit again and have recovered from the injury,” he said.

Asif, who has taken 51 wickets in 11 Tests and 38 victims in 32 One-day Internationals, said that playing in New Zealand was always his dream. “The pitches in New Zealand will definitely suit my bowling and now I am geared up to play a lead role in the Test series like the way I did in 2006 against India, Sri Lanka, England and South Africa,” he said.

“Before coming to New Zealand I played five first-class matches which helped me regain my rhythm and form.”

Asif missed this month’s limited-overs series against New Zealand in Dubai and Abu Dhabi as he was not allowed to travel to the UAE because of his deportation from Dubai last year.

Asif was detained in Dubai after being caught at the airport with a small quantity of opium. He was deported by the UAE authorities who declared that the quantity of the drug was ‘insufficient’ to prosecute the player.

“It was a very difficult time of my life because at one stage I was so dejected that I almost decided to quit cricket,” he said. “But I received great support from my family and friends and that helped me make a comeback.”

Asif said that he has learnt a lot from his mistakes, promising that he will not repeat them in the future.

Speaking on a different topic, Asif said that he hoped to get a good bowling partner as pacers are normally most successful when they hunt in pairs.

“Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis used to bowl together. Before them there were Imran Khan and Sarfraz Nawaz. I hope to develop a similar partnership,” he said.

Asif said that currently fellow pacers Umar Gul and Mohammad Aamer are bowling well, adding that he would be delighted to forge partnerships with them.

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