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Pakistan stays in the game, ICC waits for probe to end

Even as the investigations into the match-fixing scandal continues, International Cricket Council chief Sharad Pawar said that Pakistan cricket team’s tour to England would continue without cancellation of the series. He also ruled out any Indian link to the scandal. Hall of Shame | See cartoon | Full coverage | What is spot fixing?

cricket Updated: Aug 31, 2010 09:00 IST

Even as the investigations into the match-fixing scandal continues, International Cricket Council chief Sharad Pawar said that Pakistan cricket team’s tour to England would continue without cancellation of the series.

The ICC chief also rubbished reports of Indian link to the scandal.

Speaking to reporters, Sharad Pawar said, “ICC wants more time, the series will go on. We cannot take any action till we get the prima facie report. We are waiting to get any decisive information from PCB or our anti-corruption bureau”.

The match-fixing scandal that has rocked Pakistan cricket grew in proportion today with reports emerging of more games being rigged prompting a shocked cricketing fraternity to demand life bans on guilty players.

"Until and unless the process of investigation is over, it is improper for me to react," Pawar told reporters in Mumbai.

Pakistan today set off for the next leg of their tour of England despite increasing pressure to call it off amid damaging allegations that top players were caught up in a match-fixing scandal.

The cricket world has reacted with shock and dismay to claims that hundreds of thousands of pounds had changed hands in match-fixing schemes at Test level linked to betting rings dating back months.

Ex-England captain Michael Vaughan said any further matches against the tourists would have "no credibility" in the light of the damaging allegations.

The scandal broke when Britain's News of the World claimed on Sunday that it had paid fixer Mazhar Majeed 150,000 pounds (230,000 dollars, 185,000 euros) for advance details of three no-balls in the fourth and final Test between Pakistan and England as part of a sting.

Majeed, a 35-year-old who is an agent for several Pakistan players, was arrested by police on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud bookmakers in the wake of the report but was released on bail late Sunday.

Scotland Yard questioned Pakistan captain Salman Butt plus star strike bowlers Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Asif, who bowled the no-balls -- normally an accidental and unpredictable occurrence -- in question.

Butt, Asif and 18-year-old Amir -- who was named Pakistan's man of the series -- all had their mobile phones seized.

Pakistan left their team hotel near Lord's on Monday, with Sky Sports reporting angry fans had chanted "thief" in Urdu as the players boarded the team coach.

They were travelling to Taunton in southwest England where they are due to play county side Somerset in a warm-up match on Thursday ahead of the start of Twenty20 and One-Day International series against England from Sunday.

Somerset chief executive Richard Gould played down the prospect of further fan protests by saying: "We prepare for all contingencies but we think that is the furthest thing from what is likely to happen at Somerset". He added that he expected Pakistan to receive a "warm welcome".

Meanwhile, International Cricket Council (ICC) officials were meeting counterparts from the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) in London on Monday to discuss the situation.

There have been suggestions that Butt, Aamer and Asif could be withdrawn from the Pakistan team to ensure that the two Twenty20 internationals in Cardiff on Sunday and Tuesday go ahead.

Butt was not, in any event, due to captain the side in the one-dayers, with Shahid Afridi returning to lead the team.

But despite the calls from Vaughan and other top ex-players, Pakistan team manager Yawar Saeed insisted that the remaining games would go ahead.

"As far as I'm concerned the one-day series is still on... We will play all the one-dayers and T2Os," he said, speaking after the innings and 225-run defeat at Lord's which was Pakistan's heaviest Test loss of all time.

Another game in the spotlight following the News of the World's allegations is January's second Test between Pakistan and Australia in Sydney, in which Australia overcame a 206-run first innings deficit to win when Pakistan collapsed.

Majeed told the newspaper he earned more than 830,000 pounds for a betting syndicate by rigging the match.

Australia captain Ricky Ponting, reflecting on the Sydney Test, told Australian national radio: "The thing that I'm most worried about if any of this is proven to be true is some of the individual performances that took place in that game."

The news has also hit hard in Pakistan, already suffering from widespread flooding, where Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said the claims "have bowed our heads in shame" as he launched an investigation.

A defiant Butt has insisted he would not resign the Test team captaincy over the claims.

"Anybody can stand out and say anything about you, that doesn't make them true," he said. (With agencies' input)

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First Published: Aug 30, 2010 18:52 IST