Double blow to Pakistan
Lahore - Defending champions Pakistan suffered a major blow on Sunday when bowler Umar Gul and all-rounder Yasir Arafat were ruled out of the ICC World Twenty20 later this month, an official said.
Gul, top wicket-taker in the short form of the game with 43 wickets in 26 matches, hurt his shoulder last week during a fielding drill and was ruled out after an assessment on his injury.
Gul also recorded the best Twenty20 bowling figures when he took five wickets for six runs against New Zealand in the second World Twenty20, which Pakistan won in England last year.
Arafat was a doubt after sustaining a calf injury during the training camp.
"After mutual agreement with the captain (Shahid Afridi) and coach (Waqar Younis), we have decided not to take half-fit players so we have named Mohammad Sami and Mohammad Irfan as replacements," chief selector Mohsin Khan told reporters.
Captain Afridi admitted the absence of Gul for the tournament in the West Indies was a major blow.
"Gul is our best bowler but we have to cope with it and now Sami has to replace him and perform," said Afridi.
Sami, who has played 34 Tests and 83 one-day matches for Pakistan, has yet to play a Twenty20 international. Irfan is a lanky left-arm paceman, who has yet to play for Pakistan.
Pakistan, in Group A of the World Twenty20, play their first match against Bangladesh on May 1 in St Lucia before taking on Australia the next day at the same venue.
The World Twenty20 starts on April 30 and ends on May 16.