The Pakistan Cricket Board does not regret allowing Mohammad Asif to play for the Delhi Daredevils in the Indian Premier League (IPL), despite the latest injury the increasingly fragile pacer sustained in his right hand, which is likely to keep him out of the rest of the tournament. It is also possible that the injury keeps Asif from playing a full part for Pakistan in the tri-series tournament in Bangladesh from June 8.
Asif split the webbing on his right hand in a game against the Deccan Chargers and has had stitches put in since. Virender Sehwag, his Delhi captain, said after yesterday's game, that Asif split the webbing while fielding. "He's getting fit. He has four stitches on his hand," Sehwag said. "The doctors told us it would be a week before we could open them. Let's wait and see."
The latest development is a further setback to Asif who has seen much of the sheen of a prodigious start in cricket taken away by a long-standing elbow injury. He has missed much of the last year, only returning to action against Bangladesh in the recent ODI series, having had surgery on his right elbow in Australia at the beginning of the year. Still, bowling with a protective brace on his right arm, there were concerns that he had returned too quickly, in an effort to be able to participate in the IPL in which he is the second-most expensive - and thus highly-paid - Pakistan player.
If the new injury does prevent him from playing for Pakistan in the tri-series, the PCB is likely to bear the brunt of criticism for allowing him to play in India, though an official insisted there was nothing wrong with Asif going to India and that the injury could've happened "anytime, anywhere."
"We have been in touch with the doctors in India," Shafqat Naghmi, the PCB's chief operating officer, "He has split the webbing but the stitches are in and will stay there for a week."
Naghmi insisted, however, that the board was fortunate that Asif's elbow problem hadn't been aggravated. "We're lucky in that perspective that the more chronic problem - the elbow injury - hasn't worsened. His elbow is fine.
"He was fit when he went and we thought that the lighter workload of four overs per game would actually be good for him in terms of his comeback. This is just an accidental injury that could've happened anywhere, anytime."
The PCB's approach to allowing their players to participate in the IPL appears to be in contrast to their approach towards county cricket. After a calamitous run of injuries to their fast bowlers last year, the PCB formulated a policy whereby they reserve the right to prevent a contracted player from playing for counties in England. Fast bowlers such as Asif and Umar Gul have not been allowed to take part in county cricket in order to protect them from potential injuries from a greater workload.
No such problem exists with the IPL, however, says Naghmi. "The county workload, where you bowl 20 overs a day at times, and the IPL workload, where you bowl just four, is very different. There is not much chance of the workload being high in the IPL, so we don't see a problem with that. Obviously if a player was injured or there is a real fear of injury, we wouldn't allow a player to play in the IPL, but we don't see a problem otherwise."