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November 3, 2006
Inzamam-ul-Haq, the Pakistan captain, feels that the decision to ban Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif could hamper his team's chances in the forthcoming home series against West Indies and more importantly in next year's World Cup.
Shoaib was banned for two years and Asif for one year after both were found guilty of using the banned anabolic steroid nandrolone, by a three-man drugs tribunal formed by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). Asif said that he would appeal against the ban, and Shoaib is likely to follow suit. Inzamam - serving a four-match ban for bringing The Oval Test into disrepute - hoped the players would be able to make a successful appeal against the ban.
"I can understand how the two were feeling and I am hurt myself over the incidents," Inzamam told AFP. "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. Even our series against the West Indies will become tough without them."
He said that their absence would give the younger players the opportunity to prove themselves and hoped that the doping episode would serve an important lesson for the next generation of players.
Shabbir Ahmed, the fast bowler banned for a year for a suspect bowling action, has a chance to resurrect his career in the absence of Shoaib and Asif. The PCB informed that he would head to Australia on November 20 for biomechanic tests on his action. Shabbir was last reported during the Multan Test against England last year and his ban ends on December 18.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.