Pakistan cricket captain Inzamam-ul-Haq has said that the decision to ban fast bowlers Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammed Asif will be "bad news" for his team's chances in the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies.
"Shoaib and Asif are our frontline fast bowlers which is why it is very bad news for us," Inzamam was quoted as saying in The News on Friday.
"Players of the calibre of Shoaib and Asif cannot easily be replaced," he said. "They are world class strike bowlers and we are going to miss them."
While Asif was handed a one-year ban, his senior Shoaib was on Wednesday banned for two years by a Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) doping tribunal Wednesday after it was revealed that both had taken the banned steroid Nandrolone. The PCB conducted the tests in September and both players missed the Champions Trophy in India following the disclosure.
Inzamam, who is himself serving a four-match ban for bringing the game into disrepute in the Oval Test in England earlier this year over the issue of ball tampering, hoped that the duo would be able to make a successful appeal against the ban.
"It has been a painful few days for me and the outcome of the case has been a shock," said Inzamam in the interview.
"Shoaib and Asif are my teammates and I know that they must be feeling very hurt over the bans. I can feel their pain. It is an unfortunate incident for all of us," he said.
"I hope that Shoaib and Asif manage to file a strong appeal and are cleared of the charges."
Inzamam will be back from the ban to lead Pakistan in the home series against West Indies starting next week.
The Pakistan had a word of advice for the upcoming cricketers and said: "My advice for the young cricketers is that 'never take any medicine without showing it to the team doctors or physiotherapist'. They have to be very careful."