Asif is spreading rumours about ICL offers to pressurise PCB: sour

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Lahore, Nov 23 (UNI) Dope-tainted pacer Mohammad Asif could be blackmailing the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) by spreading rumours that the rebel Indian Cricket League (ICL) has offered him a lucrative contract.

''The rebel league has no intentions of signing up the dope-tainted Pakistan pacer, who is locked in an expensive legal battle to avoid a possible two-year ban after testing positive for a banned drug while playing in the official Indian Premier League (IPL) this May,'' a source close to Moin Khan, a former Pakistan captain who is the sole ICL recruiting agent in the country, told 'The News' yesterday.

''If ICL had made any offer to Asif, it would have come through Moin,'' the source stressed. ''Moin doesn't have any information whether ICL was interested in signing up Asif and it is quite apparent that the player is spreading rumours to pressurise the PCB,'' he added.

However, reports suggested that the 25-year-old Asif was offered a lucrative contract by the ICL, which currently has been able to enroll 18 Pakistan cricketers on its payrolls.

Asif, while confirming these said he has no option but to defect from ICL since the PCB has suspended him from all forms of cricket in the country over a positive dope test; this has been the fast bowler's second in two years.

''I am frustrated,'' Asif said in an interview. ''When no one is coming to my support, I have no other option left to join the ICL for which other Pakistani players are also playing. My career has come to a halt and no one is bothering,'' the paceman lamented.

However, another source said the ICL, which is making efforts to get recognition from the International Cricket Council (ICC) will not want to associate itself with a cricketer, who has a poor past record when it comes to doping.

In June, Asif was detained at the Dubai Airport for 19 days for carrying a small amount of opium. This was not the first time, fast bowler was tested positive for a banned anabolic steroid nandrolone during the 2006 ICC Champions Trophy in India and failed a dope test for the same drug again this summer.

Recently, Asif sought the governing body's help to escape a possible doping ban following comments from new Pakistan coach Intikhab Alam that he would like to have the pacer back in the national squad for the important upcoming home series against India.

The newly appointed PCB top brass seems to have a less rigid stance towards Asif than the Board's previous officials but is so far reluctant to help Asif come out of the ban.

In his just played 11 Tests, the seamer has taken 51 wickets at an average of 23.13. This clerly shows that Asif is easily one of the best pacers in international cricket. And Pakistani officials are well aware that they would all need their firepower to beat the vastly-improved Indians on their home soil early next year.

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