Karachi:Pakistan coach Intikhab Alam has termed Mohammad Asif's selection in next month's Champions Trophy squad as a step in the positive direction and said the pacer's presence will add more fire to the team's bowling department.
His comments came after former Test players have described Asif's selection in the Champions Trophy squad as a big gamble because the dope-tainted pacer has not played cricket for the last 16 months.
"No I don't think Asif's selection is a gamble because he is in good shape and working hard to be 100 per cent fit for the big tournament," Intikhab said.
"I think Asif's presence in the team will lend experience and sharpness to the bowling attack especially on the South African pitches where pace bowlers usually have a good time.
And don't forget Asif has a good record in South Africa," he added.
Asif will complete a 12-month ban for a doping offence during the inaugural Indian Premier League on September 22, the day Champions trophy begins in South Africa.
Intikhab noted that Asif remained a match-winner as on his day he could create trouble for best of the teams.
He also supported the decision to appoint Shahid Afridi as vice captain, insisting it was a reward for his recent good showing.
"Shahid (Afridi) is one of the most active, energetic and motivated performers in the side and his appointment as vice-captain will be a positive move for other players," Intikhab said.
The coach also made it clear that no exceptions would be made for any player in the Champions Trophy training camp to start from September 1.
Referring to reports that senior batsman Mohammad Yousuf might skip the conditioning camp because of the holy month of Ramazan and his religious preaching tours, Intikhab said so far Yousuf had conveyed no such request to him or the captain.
"No exception would be made for any player including Yousuf. They all have to attend the camp because the Champions Trophy is a very important tournament which we have never won before," he said.