Pakistan captain Inzy feels drug-ban pair~~s pain

Published: Thursday, November 2, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Karachi:Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq has said he felt the pain of bowlers Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif after they were banned for doping, adding that the team would badly miss their pace.

"I can understand how the two were feeling and I am hurt myself over the incidents," said Inzamam Thursday -- who is himself banned for four One-dayers for bringing the game into disrepute at the Oval Test in August.

A Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) tribunal on Wednesday banned Akhtar for two years and Asif for 12 months after they tested positive for the prohibited steroid nandrolone, a performance-enhancing drug.

The doping scandal was the latest in a series of woes to befall Pakistan cricket.

"Their absence will make a difference in our performance. Asif's career had just taken off and both he and Akhtar were our main wicket-takers," added Inzamam.

The veteran skipper said he was confident both players would appeal their bans, which threaten to dent Pakistan's bid for the 2007 World Cup. Akhtar's ban threatens the 31-year-old's career.

But he added that their absence would be felt much sooner than that.

"Even our series against the West Indies will become tough without them," said Inzamam, referring to Pakistan's three-match Test and five-match one day international home series starting later this month.

Burly Inzamam will miss the first of the one-dayers as he completes the ban imposed last month by the International Cricket Council (ICC) following the fiasco at the Oval.

The master batsman led Pakistan's refusal to return to the field on the fourth day of the fourth Test against England at the historic ground after they were penalised five runs for alleged ball-tampering.

The ICC cleared him of altering the condition of the ball but found him guilty of bringing the game into disrepute.

Pakistan were also been hit by Younis Khan's short-lived resignation of the captaincy ahead of the Champions Trophy in India and by upheaval in the boardroom that brought in a new PCB chairman and other staff.


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