Where is he from?

Bilal Asif hails from a small village called Allo Mahar Sharif, which is located on the outskirts of Daska. Sialkot isn't too far away from the village - a 45-minute drive would get you there. The belt between Sialkot and Daska has a not insubstantial record for producing domestic cricketers, including Asif's uncle Zahid Saeed, a left-arm seamer.

Saeed was among 22 probables for a training camp for the home series against India in 2004, but he didn't make the final cut. In all, he played 75 first-class matches, taking 299 wickets at an average of 24.54.

Who's played a part in his career? Anyone I'll have heard of?

He graduated with a degree in Arts, but cricket was always the top priority for Asif. Former Pakistan left-arm spinner Amir Waseem, who has mentored many Sialkot players, and former Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik have had the most influence on his career.

Asif played under the captaincy of Waseem at Tony cricket club until 2008, when he left Pakistan for Kuwait to lend a helping hand to his father, who was an electrician. Asif later returned to Pakistan in 2010 to launch his cricketing career.

How has been his cricketing journey so far?

Asif made his first-class debut for Sialkot in 2011 at the age of 26, but he only played only five matches in his first two seasons. He then made 310 runs in six matches, including his maiden century, in 2014-15. He played a pair of ODIs in Harare and one in Abu Dhabi, and smashed a 48-ball hundred during the Super 9 T20 Cup in May 2015.

So you're saying he's a batsman...?

Not quite. He is actually a specialist offspinner who grew up idolising Saqlain Mushtaq, but it was his crisp, brisk ball-striking that caught the attention of the selectors. When Pakistan had lost Saeed Ajmal and Mohammad Hafeez to suspect actions, Asif was fast-tracked into the national set-up. A spinner who made his name as a batsman. When have we ever had that in Pakistan cricket?

Cool. What else??

After picking up 17 first-class wickets in 2014-15 at an average of 27.35, he took nine wickets in the Pakistan T20 Cup in Rawalpindi and was subsequently selected for Pakistan's tour of Sri Lanka in 2015. But he only made his debut during the ODI series in Zimbabwe in October that year.

He opened the batting alongside captain Azhar Ali in the second ODI in Harare and returned without having contributed to the score, in addition to going wicketless in eight overs. In his next game, he produced an all-round performance to help his side seal the series 2-1. After claiming 5 for 25, he added a boundary-laden 38 while opening the batting to hasten Pakistan's pursuit of 162. However, he was reported for a suspect action after the game.

A man with a suspect action was called up to fill the gap left by Saeed Ajmal and Mohammad Hafeez?

Well, he underwent testing at the ICC-accredited Sri Ramachandra University in Chennai, and immediately had his action cleared. 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".

Did he remain on Pakistan's radar?

He was called up to the Test squad in 2015 for the series against England in the UAE. His call-up was intended to provide cover for Pakistan's depleted spin stocks; Hafeez had been banned from bowling in international cricket for 12 months because of an illegal action, while Ajmal had not been selected.

Asif had been on stand-by to make his Test debut in Dubai, in case Yasir Shah, failed to recover from a back spasm. Yasir, however, recovered, and Asif stayed on with the squad as cover. He did play an ODI against England in November 2015, when he gave away 32 runs in four overs and subsequently lost his place in the side.

How did he return to the Test squad?

Asif has made significant progress after working with former Pakistan legspinner Mushtaq Ahmed. His career found a second wind and he was picked ahead of Hafeez - who was struggling for form - for the series against Australia.

When legspinner Shadab Khan was all but ruled out for the first Test, Asif's chances of making a Test debut improved.

What's so great about him?

He can turn the ball sharply and generate extra bounce. According to Mushtaq Ahmed, he can bowl the doosra too, thanks to his strong wrists.

Any hobbies?

Singing. His songs are apparently popular among his team-mates and on the entire domestic circuit.

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent