Pakistan’s cricket authorities are unlikely to allow medium pacer Mohammad Asif, who is under a cloud because of suspect fitness, to cross the border and feature in the inaugural edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) starting next month.
Well-placed sources in the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) told ‘The News’ on Wednesday that senior Board officials are unwilling to issue an NOC to Asif to play in the IPL because they fear that the bowler may suffer from a recurrence of a chronic elbow problem that has kept him out of competitive cricket for since last October.
Asif is eager to return to the cricketing stage by appearing in the IPL in which he is scheduled to play for Delhi at a handsome salary of US$650,000. It is the lucrative package and an opportunity to be a part of what is seen as a revolutionary Twenty20 contest that has forced Asif to return to training recently.
The lanky pacer himself seems quite confident that he is fit enough to play in the IPL but PCB officials do not want to take any chances. Asif is a key member of the Pakistan squad and his absence due to injury is seen as one of the reasons behind their unimpressive showing against South Africa at home and on the tour of India last year. If the PCB decides to allow Asif to play in the IPL they could be in for some bitter criticism in case the player gets injured during the 44-day contest.