Pakistan jettison Asif as cover

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Pakistan jettison Asif as cover
Bilal Asif celebrates a wicket of Zimbabwean batsman during an ODI in Harare.

Liaqat Ali & James Jose - Asif is expected to provide spin cover to a squad that had landed on UAE shores with just two spinners.

By Dubai/Abu Dhabi

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Published: Tue 20 Oct 2015, 8:47 PM

Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq's rant on the lack of spin options in the Test squad against England, hasn't gone unnoticed with the selectors jettisoning Bilal Asif.
The off-spinner, who was reported for a suspect action after the third ODI against Zimbabwe in Harare this month, will link-up with the squad, ahead of the second Test in Dubai. Asif underwent a test of his bowling action at the ICC-accredited testing centre for suspected bowling actions, in Chennai, on Monday.
Asif is expected to provide spin cover to a squad that had landed on UAE shores with just two spinners. First choice spinners Yasir Shah and Zulfiqar Babar were the only ones in the squad, but with leg spinner Shah missing the first Test because of a back spasm, Pakistan were left with limited options.
 "The management has decided to retain Bilal Asif in the squad for the second Test which is going to start on Thursday," Pakistan team media manager Agha Akbar told the Khaleej Times, on Monday.
"Since Asif is allowed to bowl until the result of his test is out, which may take a couple of weeks, he is available for the second Test starting on October 22. The young spinner has worked under bowling experts at the National Cricket Academy in Lahore and they have found nothing wrong in his bowling action. They have requested the team management to send Asif for the test in Chennai and they are hopeful he will be cleared," he added.
Left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar was the only specialist spinner in the Abu Dhabi Test with part-timer off-spinner Shoaib Malik and leg spinner Asaf Shafiq filling the void. With Shah's absence, Pakistan went in with a three-man pace attack in Wahab Riaz, Imran Khan and Rahat Ali.
Pakistan had made last minute travel arrangements for uncapped Zafar Gohar, who was previously here with the 'A' squad, but the left-arm spinner couldn't arrive in time. Misbah was critical of the make-up of the squad after Shah was ruled out and had again voiced his concern after the Test, which Pakistan managed to save by the skin of their teeth.
"I think you should ask this question to the selectors or somebody back home, because I had to pick the eleven from whatever I have in the 16. So, they may know better that why there was no replacement," Misbah had said when asked about spin cover in the squad.
Shah is expected to be fit for the Dubai Test.
Meanwhile, No.3 batsman Azhar Ali, who missed the first Test due to a toe injury sustained during the tour of Zimbabwe, will return home following the death of his mother-in-law. Ali's spot was taken by Shoaib Malik, who scored a double century on comeback. Team manager Intikhab Alam said Azhar would return home and it was not clear if he would be able to rejoin the squad before the Test.
"It is sad that Azhar has to go back home following the death of his mother-in-law, and his return before the second Test looks unlikely because of the visa formalities," said Alam. Azhar who has performed Haj recently, led Pakistan to an ODI series victory against Zimbabwe. He had recovered from his foot infection and trained on Friday and Saturday and was ready to feature for Pakistan in the Dubai Test.



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