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Sydney Test between Australia-Pakistan could be fixed

The Pakistan Cricket Board has been provided evidence that players fixed the Sydney Test and a Twenty20 match during their disastrous tour of Australia earlier this year. Some players watch girls during match: Afridi

cricket Updated: May 20, 2010 16:32 IST

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has been provided evidence that players fixed the Sydney Test and a Twenty20 match during their disastrous tour of Australia earlier this year.

There have been lingering suspicions about the Test match at Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) which saw Ricky Ponting's side pull off a remarkable come-from-behind victory.

A Cricket Australia (CA) spokesman said on Wednesday night he had heard nothing about match-fixing allegations. "Our view on that match has always been that we won it through our own efforts," he said.

A former Test player told The Australian he had suspicions about the match, but like a lot of similar events in cricket, it would be nearly impossible to prove.

Pakistan had a 206-run lead after the first innings and bookmakers placed Australia's odds at $11 as the visitor reached 1-50 in the last innings, chasing a victory total of 175. Pakistan lost their last nine wickets for 89 runs and with it the match by 36 runs.

It was, however, the performance of wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal which attracted most attention in the match.

Akmal dropped four catches in the third innings and missed a run out chance of Shane Watson when the opener was on 49. Watson went on to make 97.

More importantly, he dropped Michael Hussey three times as the middle-order batsman compiled 134. Hussey was aided by a defensive field setting that allowed him and tailender Peter Siddle forge a 123-run partnership.

Senior Pakistan coach Intikhab Alam and manager Aaqib Javed told a PCB inquiry they thought bookmakers might have been involved in the events. The video of their evidence was leaked to Pakistan television Wednesday.

Former medium-pace bowler Aaqib told the inquiry that while he suspected match-fixing, especially with the run out, it was almost impossible to prove.

"I have reservations over the way he missed the run out. When I saw it I couldn't believe it. How he could miss such a big run out? I can't say 100 per cent that there is match-fixing, but I have strong suspicions," he said.

Intikhab said he too had questions about Akmal's performance.

"Kamran is a match-winner but every time we came close to a victory, he played a bad shot and got out. I was flabbergasted when Kamran missed the run out. I have serious doubts about him. I have heard stories about match-fixing," Intikhab said.

Aaqib also had suspicions about the performance of fast bowler Rana Naved-ul-Hasan in a Twenty20 match in Australia.

The PCB took strict measures after the team's return from Australia. Seven players, including former captains Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf and Shoaib Malik, were banned and fined by the board on the recommendation of an inquiry committee.

Yousuf and Younis were banned for an "indefinite" period for "infighting" while Malik and Rana were banned for one year. Shahid Afridi and Akmal were fined Rs.3 million each while Umar Akmal was fined Rs 2 million.