The Mohammad Asif affair June 5, 2008

Asif controversy worries Lawson

Cricinfo staff

Geoff Lawson answers questions about Mohammad Asif © AFP

Geoff Lawson, the Pakistan coach, has said the latest controversy involving Mohammad Asif will further disrupt his comeback after a series of injuries. Asif, who is currently detained in Dubai for allegedly possessing a banned substance, will remain there at least until Sunday, when a hearing is scheduled.

Asif was returning home (via Dubai) after his stint in the Indian Premier League (IPL) when he was held. No charges, though, have been laid against him. He was subsequently replaced in Pakistan's squad for the tri-series in Bangladesh by the fast bowler Sohail Khan.

"It's unfortunate and would be disruptive for Asif," Lawson told reporters in Karachi. "Personally I don't know the facts, we feel for him. We hope it turns out well for him. It is very unfortunate, we have been thinking about him, he has been missing quite often but was making a successful comeback from injury. It would have been one more step on his way back to full form so from that point of view it's disruptive.

"Sohail has come in Asif's place and has shown promise, so one person's misfortune is another's good fortune."

Shoaib Malik, the Pakistan captain, though wasn't perturbed by Asif's absence and was confident of his team's chances. "There is no doubt that Asif is a good bowler but we have other good bowlers who can step up and take their chances," Malik said. "We have Umar Gul, Sohail Tanvir, Rao Iftikhar and Sohail so the attack is in good hands."

Lawson said the tri-series was ideal for some of his players to adjust to the one-day format after a lengthy stint of Twenty20 cricket during the IPL. He said his players should use this opportunity to fine-tune themselves before the Asia Cup which starts on June 24 in Pakistan.

"The guys have been playing 20-over cricket for five weeks so they will be in that frame of mind so they need to come back in the 50-overs frame and Bangladesh will be the first step," Lawson said. "It's just a nice little tournament to have in between major events.

Lawson also denied that he had criticised senior players for not performing to standards in a radio interview he gave in Sydney just before arriving here. The interview had caused considerable consternation in Pakistan, leading to speculation that Lawson might be on his way out.

"I never said anything about senior players," he said. "They have all to go to higher levels, so we are working better than before."