Mohammad Asif: 10 things to know about the controversial Pakistani maverick
Designed by Jyoti Desale

Mohammad Asif, born November 20, 1982, is one of the most controversial Pakistani players of the last decade — which is saying something! Blessed with the ability to seam the ball both ways at will, Asif was one of the top bowlers in the world when on song.

 

Shiamak Unwalla looks at 10 interesting things about the man who could have been a Pakistani great had he not thrown it all away.

 

1. Drug-related issues

Mohammad Asif and Shoaib Akhtar formed a lethal pair with the new ball. Off the field, though, both men frequently got into trouble due to disciplinary and substance abuse-related issues. In 2006, both men tested positive for Nandrolone — a banned substance — and were sent home from the Champions Trophy in India.

Later in 2008, he was arrested at the Dubai airport for allegedly carrying a “small amount of opium” in his luggage. He was deported to Pakistan and the case against him was dropped.

 

2. Wrong end of the bat

In the ICC World T20 2007, Shahid Afridi and Shoiab Akhtar got into a verbal argument which culminated in the latter trying to hit Afridi with a bat. In the ensuing scuffle, it was Asif who was struck instead. Though there was no serious injury and Asif went on to play a huge role in Pakistan reaching the final, the news was leaked to the media and Shoaib was pulled up by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).

 

3. Domestic voyager

Asif has played for as many as seven domestic teams: Sialkot Cricket Association, Sheikhupura Cricket Association, Lahore Division, Khan Research Labs, National Bank of Pakistan, Delhi Daredevils, and Leicestershire.

 

4. Best batting strike-rate of the final!

India and Pakistan clashed in the climactic final of the inaugural ICC World T20 in 2007, a match which India won by the skin of their teeth in the final over. What few realise, however, is that Asif enjoyed the best strike-rate in the match — with the bat. He faced the final ball of the 19th over and got an outside edge which flew away to the third-man boundary. He didn’t face another ball, thus ending with a phenomenal strike rate of 400!

 

5. One of the three spot-fixers

In August 2010, the fourth Test between England and Pakistan was at the centre of attention after news broke of Asif and Mohammad Aamer engaging in spot fixing — the bowling of pre-meditated no-balls. It was later reported that then-captain Salman Butt was also involved in the scandal, as international cricket got its first taste of spot-fixing. The trio were accused of colluding with match-fixer Mazhar Majeed as large sums of money were found in their hotel rooms.

Asif publicly confessed to spot-fixing in 2013 after having been banned for five years by the ICC. He was also sentenced to a year in prison before that, but was released in six months after he pleaded guilty.

 

6. Failed actor…

According to a report by BBC, Asif was approached by an Indian director, Kaithapram Damodaran Namboodiri, to act in a film titled Mazhavillilinattamvare. However, Asif was scrapped from the film after the allegations of spot-fixing began to surface.

“He is a friendly and nice guy. I was shocked to hear about the allegations, so I dropped him from the film,” Namboodiri later said.

 

7…but not quite

In 2013, Express News reported that Asif would feature in a role in an upcoming film titled India Mein Lahore, which was said to be a romantic comedy co-production between an Indian and Pakistani production company.

 

8. Equally controversial ex!

Asif briefly dated Pakistani actress Veena Malik, with rumours of the pair getting married also coming up. However, things went sour between the couple; Veena went on to accuse Asif of threatening her. She allegedly gave him a loan, and when he was unable to repay it, he started threatening her not to ask him for the money.

 

9. Finally hitched

Asif married Sana Hilal in 2010 in a ceremony attended by some of his teammates including Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan. Apparently, certain high-profile ex-cricketers were not invited.

 

10. First one to bowl a maiden in T20Is

Asif is the first bowler to bowl a maiden over in Twenty20 cricket. In that over, he took two wickets — Kevin Pietersen for a golden duck and then of Andrew Strauss, also without scoring.

 

(Shiamak Unwalla is a proud Whovian and all-round geek who also dabbles in cricket writing as a reporter with CricketCountry. His Twitter handle is @ShiamakUnwalla)