Australia v Pakistan, 2nd Test, Sydney, 1st day

Mohammad Asif revels in second coming

Osman Samiuddin at the SCG

January 3, 2010

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Mohammad Asif is congratulated on one of his six wickets, Australia v Pakistan, 2nd Test, Sydney, 1st day, January 3, 2010
Mohammad Asif: 'I was a newcomer then and now I'm here as a main bowler, and that is a big difference.' © Getty Images
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Mohammad Asif's return to the venue of his international debut turned out to be a little more memorable than the Test five years ago. He didn't take a wicket then and was hit around by Adam Gilchrist, a performance that saw him dropped from the side for the next year.

But on a greener pitch, under overcast skies and on a rain-curtailed opening day, Asif ran through Australia's middle and lower order, picking up a career-best 6 for 41 as the home side crashed to 127 all out. Five years, he said, had seen him a changed bowler.

"We were already down 2-0 by then, and we had a few injuries at the time as well," Asif said. "I didn't really do anything much at the time and I got dropped after that. But I have got another chance now.

"There is a difference in confidence obviously since then. I was a newcomer then and now I'm here as a main bowler, and that is a big difference. Also, in five years I have just changed a lot, matured a bit, learnt quite a lot. There have been quite a few technical changes over that time."

Asif's methods were simple and similar to what he had done on a similarly grassy surface in Karachi against India in 2006, his breakthrough performance. Michael Hussey, one of his victims, compared his mode of attack to Glenn McGrath. "I just tried to bowl on the right areas and tried to swing the ball," said Asif. "Today was perfect. The conditions were very helpful for bowlers."

Pakistan had been asked to bowl first after Mohammad Yousuf lost his second successive toss and though Ricky Ponting's decision surprised a few, given the conditions, Asif said Pakistan had expected as much. "We were not surprised actually. We saw in the last two Tests that they decided to bat first and knew that Ponting likes to bat first on winning the toss."

Asif said his first wicket - knocking the top of Michael Clarke's middle stump - was the pick of his victims. "That was I think the ball of the day today. The two balls before were outswingers and the one that took his wicket, that ball was coming in and he was totally deceived."

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo

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Osman Samiuddin Osman spent the first half of his life pretending he discovered reverse swing with a tennis ball half-covered with electrical tape. The second half of his life was spent trying, and failing, to find spiritual fulfillment in the world of Pakistani advertising and marketing. The third half of his life will be devoted to convincing people that he did discover reverse swing. And occasionally writing about cricket. And learning mathematics.
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