McGrath-emulating Asif itching to finish the job
Mohammad Asif dealt England with a deadly blow on the opening day of the fourth Test on Thursday here at The Oval and then promised he would return in the second innings to finish off the job.
After getting a quartet of victims including the prized scalps of Andrew Strauss and Kevin Pietersen, Asif made it clear he was already looking forward to better his opening day figures of 4-56 when the home team bat again in this Test.
“I am feeling good, my confidence is high after taking some good wickets and I can’t wait to bowl again in the (England) second innings,” the 23-year-old from Sheikhupura said after helping Pakistan skittled out England for 173.
Asif, whose Test career is still in quite a nascent stage, has assumed the role of the team’s pace spearhead ahead of the likes of Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Sami.
The bowler’s absence from the first three Tests of this series is seen by many as one of the major reasons behind Pakistan’s below par showing in the contest in which they are 0-2 down. And his return to the line-up at The Oval turned out to be the start of a Pakistani revival in an otherwise frustrating series for the tourists.
Asif admitted he was under a lot of extra pressure because of the high expectations every one had in him. “Only I know how I managed to bowl the first two, three overs,” he said. “There was so much pressure on me. Thank God it all went well,” he added.
Asif took the field as Pakistan’s most successful bowler of the year with 25 wickets from five Tests. He came back after staying away from competitive cricket for several weeks because of an elbow injury but if that problem was still posing any kind of problems it didn’t show in the way he bowled on Thursday.
“I went out there fully aware that my team needed me. I bowled to a plan and though the wicket is good for batting, it helped me because there was some moisture in it.”
Asif bowled a 13-over first spell, quite a long one for a fast bowler but said he was feeling all right. “There is some stiffness but that’s normal since I am playing after quite a while.”
He got the wickets of three of England’s leading batters but said he enjoyed sending back Pietersen with a gem of a delivery. “I know he (Pietersen) likes to play his shots right from the start and so I tried bowling him one that he had to play. It worked.”
Asif was also pleased with the way his new-ball partner Umar Gul also kept picking wickets from the other end. “It always helps when your partner is also attacking from the other end,” he said.
But in the meantime, Asif is also hoping the fit-again duo of Shoaib Akhtar and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan would return to reinforce the Pakistani attack for the five-match ODI series against England getting underway from August 30 in Cardiff, saying, “Hopefully Shoaib and Rana would be back and that would further improve our attack.”
Asif is confident he would remain fit and in form in a bid to realise his biggest ambition: Emulating his idol Glen McGrath. “I know McGrath is a big name but I also want to be as big and as good as he is,” said Asif who has an action that resembles the Australian great, who, with 542 scalps, is world’s leading fast bowler with most number of Test wickets.
Source:The NewsMore on:Glenn McGrath, Mohammad Asif, Pakistan, Pakistan in England 2006
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