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Mohammad Asif ‘best bowler’ I ever faced, says England’s Pietersen

“The best bowler I faced was Mohammad Asif, the bowler from Pakistan who got done for (spot)-fixing,” Pietersen said in a podcast, adding it was “probably not a bad thing because he tormented a lot of batters.”

Pietersen was England’s all-time leading run-scorer across all formats but he was sensationally axed after the team’s 5-0 Ashes thrashing in Australia in 2013/14. He now plays in leagues.

The 104-Test veteran found Asif the most difficult bowler he ever encountered, and admired Asif’s “ability to make a batsman feel like the ball was accelerating off the wicket in different directions.”

“If I was in good form, he made sure I wasn’t in good form a couple of weeks later after playing him,” he recounted.

“If I wasn’t in good form, I knew I wasn’t in good form after playing him for a couple of weeks during a series.”

In 2006, Asif dismissed Pietersen on his very first ball to him with a golden duck at The Oval in a Test which is now better remembered for Pakistan’s decision to forfeit the match after receiving ball-tampering accusations.

The right-armer took on the former captain four more times in international cricket but only once more in Tests, with Pietersen becoming one of his five first-innings victims during the first Test of Pakistan’s 2010 tour of England.

However, Asif’s career was met with a rough patch when he was accused of deliberately bowling no-balls in a spot-fixing scandal at Lord’s during the fourth Test of that 2010 tour. The fast bowler faced a five-year ban from the International Cricket Council and a one-year prison sentence in the United Kingdom.

The 34-year-old pacer made a return to first-class cricket in Pakistan in October 2016.

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