We won't put pressure on Asif - Younis
Pakistan captain Younis Khan and coach Intikhab Alam have said they will give Mohammad Asif time to settle into his groove after more than year out of international cricket, and have added they won't put any undue pressure on him on his return at the Champions Trophy. Asif last played in July last year; he was banned by the Pakistan board soon after in September, as he tested positive for the banned substance nandrolone at the inaugural IPL.
"We are not going to put pressure on Asif because he is coming after a one-year gap and I would also expect the fans not to expect much of him," Younis told reporters at a training camp in Karachi. "We will see how he copes and then decide whether to play him in the first match or not. I wish him the best, and hope that he gets five wickets against India [on September 26] and helps us win that game."
Asif's inclusion, Younis suggested, was a part of a long-term plan, for his experience would play a significant role in Pakistan's upcoming tours of Australia and New Zealand. "We had to bring him back as he is a quality bowler and even if he doesn't perform in this event, we would hope that he comes in better shape for our tours to New Zealand and Australia later this year," he said.
Alam was confident Asif will improve with each game and was positive about his fitness, coming in to this tournament. "Asif is one of the best new ball bowlers, but for this event we will have to give him time," he said. "He will perform with every match and I am confident that he is in a very good physical condition."
Asif is not allowed to be with the squad until the ban expires - on September 22 - and will therefore miss Pakistan's opening game of the tournament on the 23rd, the day he arrives in South Africa. "He is not available for the first game because of the ban," Alam said. "We will see if he plays the second game against India. He is very keen and is in a good mental state," he said.
Pakistan take on West Indies in their opening game of the competition but play two warm-up games before that, including one against Sri Lanka.