New Delhi: Pakistan cricket has been stumbling from crisis to crisis in recent days with the latest one came on Monday morning when in a sensational disclosure the Pakistan Cricket Board declared that fast bowlers Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif tested positive for Nandrolone which is a banned drug.
Shoaib Akhtar running in and bowling at 100 miles an hour and uprooting the stumps of opposing batsmen is one of cricket's greatest visual attractions.
So is Mohammad Asif who has been compared to Australian great Glenn McGrath. He has a great control over the line and length of his deliveries and has carved a niche for himself in the world of cricket in a very short time.
They are two superstars of modern day cricket or are they?
Akhtar and Asif have been withdrawn from the ICC Champions Trophy and PCB has confirmed that Akhtar's second sample has also tested positive.
"PCB asked for reconfirmation of the tests from the Malaysian laboratory, and we have been verbally informed that the second sample is also positive," Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Nasim Ashraf said on Monday evening.
The duo face a two-year ban and could miss the World Cup next year to be held in West Indies.
For Shoaib Akhtar, ICC Champions Trophy was an opportunity to go full throttles after making a comeback from injury in England.
But his return ended up after just eight overs that he bowled against Rajasthan in a practice game.
Both Akhtar and Asif have been recalled to Pakistan and the International Cricket Council has approved all-rounder Yasir Arafat and left-arm spinner Abdul Rehman as replacements for the tainted duo.
"The team will take any adversity in their stride and rise to the occasion and they will play good cricket tomorrow. We have to put behind the issue behind us and get on with cricket. That is our job, " Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer said.
The incident brings back memories from the World Cup 2003 when Shane Warne was sent home after testing positive for a diuretic and banned for one year from international cricket.
But with the recall of Akhtar and Asif leaves the Pakistan cricket team with a huge ask as they play their first match of the tournament against Sri Lanka on Tuesday.
"Sports mein aisa nahi hona chahiye kyonki sports hota hai ki aap aao aur khelo aur free mind se khelo. To mere khayan se ye thoda dodgy ho jata hai. Aisa kisi bhi team ke saath nahi hona chahiye (This should not happen in sports as the game should be played with a free mind. This should not happened with any team)," Pakistan skipper Younis Khan said.
The decision to call back the players pre-empts the embarrassment of them being found guilty during the tournament, as the ICC will be conducting random dope tests of the players.
Cricketers who were caught taking drugs:
(With inputs from Himanshu Singhal and Amit Bose)
Live Score, News & WC 2019 Updates