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Mohammad Asif set to be pardoned

The Pakistani pacer is likely to be pardoned in a drug case in a bid to feature him in this September's Champions Trophy to be played in Pak.
By HT Correspondent | IANS, Karachi
UPDATED ON JUL 12, 2008 01:14 PM IST

Pakistani pacer Mohammad Asif is likely to be pardoned in a drug case in a bid to feature him in this September's Champions Trophy to be played on home soil.

It has been learnt through reliable sources that there is a consensus within the top bosses of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) that a ban on Asif will only compound the problems of the national team that made an early exit from the Asia Cup played in Pakistan from June-24-July 6. Pakistan failed to qualify for the final following a pathetic bowling display during the tournament.

Asif, who was detained at Dubai airport for carrying 0.24 gram of opium in his wallet last month, missed the Asia Cup because of the detention.

The Board has ordered a probe into the incident, but that is yet to begin as the PCB has not obtained the documents relating to Asif's arrest from the authorities in Dubai.

A top PCB official said that if the Board failed to obtain the documents then it will have to give Asif, who claims to be innocent, the benefit of doubt.

"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," said Shafqat Naghmi, PCB's Chief Operating Officer.

Naghmi said that he had tried to get the report on the incident during the International Cricket Council (ICC) annual conference last week.

The PCB has already made it clear that if the report says that Asif did carry a banned drug then he will be in trouble.

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 had added that the PCB is getting them translated. But now the Board is claiming that it never received those 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.

Asif was detained in Dubai while on his way home after playing in the Indian Premier League (IPL) over possession of a banned drug. He was released after remaining in custody for almost three weeks.

The Sheikhupura-born pacer never admitted to the offence and has claimed that the banned substance that the police recovered from his wallet was a herbal medicine given to him by a hakim as pain killer.

While Asif was busy fighting his case, his teammates flopped miserably in the Asia Cup mainly because of a poor pace attack that was without Asif, Shoaib Akhtar and injured Umar Gul.

Pakistan are now scheduled to host the Champions Trophy in September and are hoping for a better showing from their team in the elite eight-nation contest. The Board believes that Asif's return can help the team's cause which is why there is a strong possibility that Asif will be let off the hook.

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