Coach Lawson optimistic over paceman Asif’s fitness

Monday, November 12, 2007

KANPUR, India: Pakistan coach Geoff Lawson is confident that Mohammad Asif, one of his team’s main strike bowlers, will get fit in time to play a role in the Test series against India starting in Delhi from November 22, writes Khalid Hussain.

As media reports continue to cast a doubt over Asif’s fitness with some saying that the medium pacer might be unable to play any of the three Tests because of an elbow problem, Lawson sounded much more optimistic.

“I just talked to Asif 30 minutes back and he is really training hard to get fit in time for the Test series,”
the former Australian pacer told ‘The News’ on Saturday night. Asif, 24, who aggravated a tennis elbow injury in last month’s home series against South Africa was ruled out of the first three one-dayers against India because of fitness reasons.

Pakistan on Sunday played their one-dayer against the home side here in Kanpur but there are no signs of Asif joining the team. He will be missing the next two One-day Internationals (ODIs) to be played in Gwalior (November 15) and Jaipur (November 18) and remains doubtful for the Test series getting underway from November 22 at Delhi. But Lawson, who believes Asif’s presence can really benefit Pakistan in the Test series against India, said that Asif’s progress has been good.

“He has been training for a few days now and I’m hearing that there is some improvement,”
he said.
“He hasn’t actually started playing cricket yet but I think Asif should begin it soon,”
he added.

There have been strong doubts about Asif’s role on the Indian tour from the day national selectors announced that he would be missing the first three one-dayers. Sources had disclosed to this correspondent that Asif will take almost six weeks to recover which meant that he could be out of action till the mid of December. Pakistan’s last of the three Tests against India is scheduled to end on December 12 in Bangalore.

The Sheikhupura-born Asif, who has taken 51 wickets from 11 Tests and also has 31 ODI scalps from 20 games, first sustained the elbow problem during last summer’s tour of England following a brief county stint with Leicestershire.

The injury forced him to miss the first three Tests against England and only made a comeback in that fateful fourth Test at The Oval. The elbow problem subsided after some rest and treatment but once again dogged him during the home series against South Africa, forcing him to sit out of four of the five one-dayers following a series of long spells in the two-match Test series against the Proteas.

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