Former players have welcomed fast bowler Mohammad Sami's selection in the Pakistan squad as injured Umar Gul's replacement for the Twenty20 World Cup to be held in the West Indies from April 30- May 16.
Sami and left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman were yesterday named as replacements for Gul and Yasir Arafat, who were both ruled out of the upcoming event due to injuries.
And former captain and Director-General of Cricket in PCB Javed Miandad hailed the pacer's selection but said Pakistan would feel Gul's absence in the tournament.
"Gul's absence will be felt but the mark of a good team is that it manages to do well even if some of its key players are not available," he said.
"Sami has got tremendous potential which he has not fulfilled completely so far, but I think this is his best opportunity to secure a permanent berth in the team," Miandad said Miandad said of Sami, who ironically has not played a single Twenty20 International for Pakistan.
Former captain and chief selector Aamir Sohail also agreed with Miandad and said, "In the first place Sami should never have been dropped from the team after his performance in the Sydney test."
"His selection in the team is totally justified. He is a pure fast bowler and if Pakistan wants to do well, it must have a bowler of Sami's pace and caliber, who can shock the opposition in any conditions," he said.
Sohail pointed out that Sami improved a lot in recent times and was in good form in the domestic season.
"At times I feel injustice was done with him but it is still not too late. I would definitely back Sami to deliver in the West Indies with his pace. And don't forget he is a brilliant fielder and a capable batsman as well down the order," he said.
Former Test batsman Basit Ali said he always felt that Sami deserved a place in the Pakistan team.
"If by fate the selectors have now picked him in the World Cup squad, I think Pakistan's pace attack will have more teeth now. Sami's inclusion gives the captain lot more options. He must be in the team in any format of the game," Basit said.
Another former Test captain and wicketkeeper Rashid Latif believed that Sami had matured after his stint with the rebel Indian Cricket League.
"He is a far better bowler now and he has plenty of experience of playing T20 cricket. Pakistan is lucky he was there as a replacement for the injured Umar Gul," he said.