Pakistan are hoping that the last-minute withdrawal of Mohammad Asif will not affect their team's title chances in a tri-nation tournament, starting in Dhaka on Sunday
The selectors are now looking to Umar Gul, the most experienced fast bowler available, to guide a young yet potent pace attack in Bangladesh, where Pakistan are expected to face India in the clash for the title.
"Asif's ouster is certainly a setback for us," chief selector Salahuddin Ahmed told The News, a Pakistan based daily. "But we still have some very talented fast bowlers and hope that somebody like Umar Gul will step forward and shoulder the responsibility of spearheading our pace attack in Dhaka."
Asif was dropped from the 16-man Pakistan squad following his detention in Dubai. Sohail Khan, 24, who made his international debut at home against Zimbabwe earlier this year, was included in his place.
Pakistan's pace attack is also without their fastest bowler Shoaib Akhtar, who is currently trying to overturn a five-year ban. Mohammad Sami was also not considered after his involvement with the unofficial Indian Cricket League.
Now Gul, 24, heads the pace battery that includes Sohail Tanvir, Rao Iftikhar Anjum and youngsters Wahab Riaz and Sohail. "Gul has time and again proved himself to be a wicket-taking bowler and I'm sure he will respond to the challenge," said Salahuddin.
He is also expecting a lot from Sohail Tanvir, who was recently crowned as the most successful player of the inaugural Indian Premier League (IPL). "Sohail showed he can be really destructive and we hope that he would retain his form in Bangladesh."
Pakistan's Dhaka-bound squad will assemble in Karachi today to have a practice session before flying out to Dhaka on Friday.