Bilal Asif cleared by ICC after testing
Bilal Asif, the Pakistan offspinner whose bowling action was questioned earlier this month, has been cleared by the International Cricket Council after an independent assessment in India.
In a statement, the ICC said that Asif's bowling action "was well within the 15-degree level of tolerance permitted under the ICC regulations" and the player, who had been eligible to feature in the Test squad for the current series against England pending his results, is now free to continue bowling in international cricket.
Asif, 30, made his international debut against Zimbabwe in the second ODI in Harare, where he opened the batting alongside the stand-in captain, Azhar Ali, having earlier claimed figures of 5 for 25 to help Pakistan win the series 2-1. However, he was subsequently reported by the umpires for a suspect bowling action.
Asif travelled to the Sri Ramachandra University testing centre in Chennai where he was assessed by biomechanists on October 19. "At the assessment, it was revealed that the amount of elbow extension in all of Asif's deliveries was well within the 15-degree level of tolerance permitted under the ICC regulations," said the ICC.
His call-up to the Test squad was intended to provide cover for Pakistan's depleted spin stocks: allrounder Mohammad Hafeez has been banned from bowling in international cricket for 12 months because of an illegal action, while offspinner Saeed Ajmal has not been selected because he has proved ineffective after remedying his own issues with his action.
Asif had been on stand-by to make his Test debut in Dubai, in the event that Yasir Shah, the legspinner, failed to recover from the back spasm that ruled him out of the opening match of the series. Shah, however, recovered with Asif remaining with the squad as cover.
He has an outside chance of selection for the third Test in Sharjah, a venue that is known to favour spin, especially now that Imran Khan, the fast bowler, has been ruled out of the contest with an injured bowling hand. However, with Zulfiqar Babar showing a return to form in Dubai to preserve his claims to the second spinner's role, Asif is likely to have to wait until next month's ODI series for a return to international action.
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. @kalson