JOHANNESBURG: Pakistan coach Intikhab Alam is keen to see Mohammad Asif back in action, saying that the comeback pacer is almost certain to be a part of the team in the crucial match against India at Centurion on Saturday (tomorrow) as he is fit and itching to return to international action.
Intikhab told ‘The News’ that there were no two opinions about the quality of the bowler but added that what the management needed to see was his form and fitness. “Thank God he is in perfect shape and we now believe he is ready for international action.”
The coach declared that his team will need Asif for the match against India.
“We definitely want him back in action in the match against India and in all probability he would be there in the playing XI. His presence would be a great boost for the team. He has been training with the team for the last two days and is fit and ready to play that crucial match,” he said.
Intikhab believes that Asif’s presence would be an added advantage for the already strong bowling attack. “Our pace battery has definitely bowled with absolute accuracy with everyone giving his best. Asif’s presence would give the bowling extra strength and that is what we are looking at in the match against India.”
Intikhab said that Asif had been training hard with the junior team players for the last couple of months. “The best thing about Asif is that he has been working hard for the last two months and that is very much evident from the line and length he has maintained in the nets. The other thing about Asif is that he is making all out effort to regain his place in the playing XI. This is really good for Pakistan cricket as the competition is growing harder day by day. It would help players work even harder on their fitness and form.”
Though Intikhab was not certain as to which bowler would make way for Asif in the match against India, it will possibly be Rana Naved-ul Hasan, who could be sidelined. “It all depends on the track. Once we see the playing surface we would finalise our options. Let us see the track first,” he said.
Intikhab had all praise for Pakistan’s pace attack that produced some sensational stuff in the low-scoring match against West Indies. “I have got no word to praise Pakistan’s bowling attack that performed brilliantly against West Indies,” he said.
“Asif’s return would be of great importance as it would ensure continuous pressure on the opposing team. (Mohammad) Aamer and (Umar) Gul are already bowling superbly and Asif’s presence would give the attack further impetus.”
Itikhab, however, was not in favour of preparing such pitches for One-day Internationals. “I think it is the start of the season and that was why the pitch was such a nightmare for the batsmen. Since we are playing the one-dayers, there is a need to provide supporting pitches where batsmen and bowlers could get even chances.”