“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.