PCB to let off Asif for team's sake

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Lahore, Jul 12: Following its early exit from the recently concluded Asia Cup, Pakistan is most likely to pardon speedster Mohammad Asif in a drug case so as to strengthen its depleted pace attack for this September's Champions Trophy.

A ban on Asif would only compound the miseries for Pakistan which failed to reach the final of the Asia Cup that was played on home soil and it has been learnt through reliable sources that there is a consensus within the top bosses of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to let off the pacer under the present circumstances.

Asif was detained at Dubai airport for carrying banned substance in his wallet last month while he was returning home from India and he had to miss the Asia Cup because of his detention.

The PCB set up an inquiry committee to oversee the incident which is yet to begin its probe because the board has still not received the documents from the authorities in Dubai.

A top PCB official said Asif will be given the benefit of doubt if the board does not get the documents with the bowler claiming to be innocent.

''Our entire investigation into the Asif issue has to be based on the report over the incident. If we cannot get those documents from the Dubai authorities then we will give Asif the benefit of doubt,'' PCB Chief Operating officer Shafqat Naghmi said.

The board has already made it clear that if the documents prove that Asif was carrying a banned substance, he will face the trouble and Naghmi said he had tried to get the report on the incident during the International Cricket Council (ICC) annual conference last week.

Earlier this month, reports emerged that the PCB has received documents from the Dubai authorities but was unable to review them as they were in Arabic. The reports added that the PCB is getting them translated. However, the board has denied any such report and claimed that it never received the documents.

The PCB had appointed a three-man committee that includes Naghmi, Zakir Khan, PCB's Director of Cricket Operations and Nadeem Akram, Director of human resources, to investigate the incident.

Pakistan, which was already without controversial fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar, was further depleted in the bowling department with Asif's detention and the result showed in the Asia Cup where the home team bowlers were thrashed by the two Asian giants - India and Sri Lanka.

UNI

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