Islamabad, Feb 11(ANI): Pakistan fast bowler Umar Gul will have to lead the team's bowling attack in the forthcoming World Cup in the absence of disgraced pacers Mohammed Aamir and Mohammad Asif, who have been handed lengthy bans by the ICC on spot-fixing charges, former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram has said.
He said that Pakistan's fortunes would, to an extent, depend on how the next two months pan out for a few team individuals, especially Gul and Shoaib Akhtar.
"A few individuals will have to play leading roles for Pakistan. In the absence of Mohammed Aamir and Mohammad Asif, Umar Gul will have to spearhead the bowling attack. Gul is bowling quick and if he can utilise the reverse swing, he will be deadly," the Daily Times quoted Akram, as saying.
About Akhtar, he said that the express bowler should be used in short bursts, and agreed with Pakistan's captain for the World Cup 2011, Shahid Afridi, that he saw a limited role for the pacer.
"I hope Akhtar stays fit throughout the tournament. Shahid Afridi's main job is to handle Akhtar well. In a recent interview, Afridi said he sees a limited role for the veteran pacer. I agree with him," Akram said.
"Akhtar should be used in short bursts, of about four overs at the start of the innings, then he can bowl a couple in the middle and then in the slog overs. Because Pakistan need Akhtar's pace, short spells will be best. His reverse swing at hostile pace will be really effective," he added.
The former captain believed that the absence of Sohail Tanvir, who was ruled out of the mega event owing to his slow recovery from last year's knee surgery, would hurt Pakistan.
"After [Abdul] Razzaq, he was a dependable all-rounder. Tanvir is a good batsman and could have contributed lower down the order. But I think, with Afridi around, there is plenty of option. Team selection will certainly be key," he said.
Akram picked young Ahmad Shahzad, who recently scored a century against New Zealand, as the player to watch out for in the tournament.
"Shahzad will be the player to watch out for. Apparently, I am his 'hero' but he compares his batting style after Sachin Tendulkar. Just 20, Shahzad is extremely promising. He left his mark with a century against New Zealand recently and he is high on confidence and won't succumb to pressure easily," he said.
"I have watched him play in the Under-19 ICC Cricket World Cup in New Zealand. He has got all the shots in the book and his best form of defence is to attack. I think Shahzad will be very consistent on sub-continental tracks," Akram added. (ANI)