Detained Asif dropped by Pakistan for cricket tri-series

Published: Wednesday, June 4, 2008, 19:14 [IST]
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Pakistan dropped paceman Mohammad Asif on Wednesday for the tri-nation series in Bangladesh because he is set to remain in detention in Dubai for several more days, officials said.

Promising fast-bowler Sohail Khan will take the place of the 25-year-old Asif, who was held at Dubai airport on Sunday after an allegedly illegal substance was found in his wallet.

"As we don't know about Asif's release as yet, Sohail has been named as his replacement for the tri-series," chief selector Salahuddin Ahmed told AFP.

The tri-series, which also involves India, starts in Dhaka on June 8 and the Pakistan squad flies out to the Bangladesh capital on Friday.

The Pakistan Cricket Board says that Asif, who was returning from a domestic tournament in India, is innocent of the charges but he is expected to remain in detention for some time.

"We are still fighting hard for his release and reports that he has been cleared are not correct," Pakistan Cricket Board chief operating officer Shafqat Naghmi told AFP after local newspapers said Asif had been freed.

"The authorities in Dubai are waiting for the results from a urine test carried out on Asif, and on the results of a test on the substance which was found in his possession," Naghmi said.

Naghmi said the legal process in the United Arab Emirates could take "three to four days."

"We are following the process through our lawyer and as far as we know no charges have yet been framed against Asif," he said.

"We believe the process is that the airport prosecutor lays the charges down and passes on to the public prosecutor, who will then decide whether or not this should go to trial."

The PCB believed that Asif was innocent, Naghmi said.

"Our opinion is based on what our player has told us and Asif said he is innocent. At least there is no counter-argument to doubt him. The law says that you are innocent until proven guilty and we take that as our stance," he said.

The 24-year-old Sohail has played three one-day internationals against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh earlier this year and was the leading wicket-taker in the last domestic season with 65 wickets in nine matches.

Asif's arrest is the latest controversy to hit Pakistan's troubled cricket team over the past two years.

Asif was banned for one year after he tested positive for the steroid nandrolone in October 2006. Fellow paceman Shoaib Akhtar was banned for two years on the same charge.

The bans were however lifted on appeal two months later.

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