More trouble for Pakistan as they lose a key player in Abdul Razzaq © AFP

Abdul Razzaq, the Pakistan allrounder, has been ruled out of the World Cup with a knee injury suffered just prior to the team's scheduled departure for the West Indies. Razzaq sustained the injury during a practice session on Monday at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore and doctors have said that he might be out for up to three weeks.

"I am simply devastated. One moment we are practicing and planning for the big tournament and next moment doctors tell me I am out of it," Razzaq told agencies. "It is hugely disappointing for me to go out this way," said Razzaq, who would have been playing in his third World Cup, had it not been for the last-minute injury. Razzaq, who has played 229 ODIs for Pakistan, recently missed the Test series in South Africa because of an elbow injury.

"Razzaq suffered the injury during practice and we suspect it may be ligament damage or even a fracture. He is out for three weeks," PJ Mir, the media manager of the Pakistan Cricket Board, told Cricinfo. "Azhar Mahmood will be his replacement."

Mahmood, who was already kept on standby given the injury worries in the fast bowling line-up. Pakistan were already in a state of confusion as Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif, the fastbowling spearheads, were in doubt to be fit in time for the World Cup.

Shoaib and Asif are currently in England for medical check-ups and were not present for the dope tests conducted by the board on the players in the World Cup squad. Shoaib had pulled out of Pakistan's tour to South Africa after he picked up a hamstring injury during the second Test at Port Elizabeth. Asif, who played the entire tour, is carrying an elbow injury.

The two had tested positive for the banned substance nandrolone in October when the board tested players before the Champions Trophy. They were both handed bans from international cricket but in an unexpected turn of events a drugs tribunal, appointed by the board, reversed the judgement in December on account of the fact that the players were able to prove "exceptional circumstances" for taking the drug.

"It is a big blow. We were celebrating Umar Gul's fitness boost when this sad news came," Bob Woolmer, Pakistan's coach, was quoted as saying by AFP. Gul had just been cleared to play after an ankle injury threatened his chances of making it to the Caribbean for one-day cricket's premier tournament.

"It is a major blow for us because Razzaq is one of our main players," Inzamam-ul-Haq, the Pakistan captain said, in reaction to the news of Razzaq's injury.