K. M. Asif: 'It's always always been my dream to play under M. S. Dhoni'

The Keralite pacer speaks on a variety of aspects as he gears up to play his maiden IPL.

K. M. Asif has been picked up for a price two times his reserve price at the IPL Auction.   -  THE HINDU

His disarming smile hides a tale of struggle. Son of a daily wage labourer, K. M. Asif has seen his sister recover from a surgery for a malignant tumour in the brain and taken care of a younger brother with a temperament and disruptive behaviour disorder.

Asif is only 24 yet the responsibility of his family in Kerala’s Mallapuram weighs heavily on him. Still, his eyes have that distinct sparkle and he possesses a hearty laughter.

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And Chennai Super Kings’ new pace bowling signing, aptly, speaks good Tamil. “We all see Tamil movies in Kerala and I am a huge Vikram fan,” he said to Sportstar here on Tuesday (March 6).

Bought for Rs. 40 lakh by CSK at this year’s IPL auction – Asif wants to renovate his family home with the money – the small-made cricketer can generate pace with his rhythm and momentum.

“It has always been my dream to play under M. S. Dhoni. And CSK is perhaps the most popular team in India,” he noted.

At the MRF Pace Foundation here to hone his skills ahead of the IPL, Asif said, “I owe much to MRF. I came here last year too and it made me technically, physically and mentally ready for the season.”

And he did make people take notice of his pace, turning up for Kerala in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Twenty20 tournament. Sharp with a side-on release, Asif sent down potent yorkers – he got Karnataka’s Mayank Agarwal with one such toe-crusher – and got some deliveries to rise from short of a good length.

He caught the eyes of IPL’s talent scouts. Yet, Asif did not expect to be picked by CSK. “I had gone for trials for Delhi Daredevils, Rajasthan Royals and Mumbai Indians. And I bowled well there.”

Growing up, his favourite IPL side was not CSK but Delhi Daredevils. “I am a bowler but love Virender Sehwag’s batting. I backed Delhi because he used to play for it.”

A rather late developer in the game, he could not focus totally on cricket because of a need to earn for a family finding it hard to make ends meet.

Asif travelled to Dubai for work and played in tennis ball tournaments for money. Finally, he made the breakthrough to the State side.

Now the Mallapuram Express is ready to blaze the IPL tracks.

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