Pak minister warns team against match fixing

Ex-players aghast at remark ahead of tie

Pak minister warns team against match fixing

Warning Pakistan’s cricket team against match-fixing ahead of their World Cup semifinal clash against India on Wednesday, Malik said the players were being closely watched and their movements and telephone numbers were being monitored. “I gave a warning that there should be no match-fixing. I am keeping a close watch. If any such thing happens, we are going to take action,” Malik told media persons during an interaction at Karachi.

Malik’s comments invited immediate criticism from the country’s former players and administrators, including Tehreek-e-Insaf party chief Imran Khan who dubbed the minister’s comments as “highly disappointing”. Khan captained Pakistan to their only World Cup victory in 1992.

But Rehman said  though he was “sure the team has very clean members”, intelligence is being gathered on the Pakistani cricketers, including “who are meeting them and the position of their telephones”.

“This is necessary because we can’t take a chance after what happened in London,” he said, in a reference to a recent spot-fixing controversy involving three Pakistan players during the series against England.

Malik also had some advice for the Pakistani players. “There is a lot of love for the cricketers and we hope they will win the game for us. We expect they will not disappoint the people,” he said.

Malik’s critics attacked him for his remarks and that if he had to say something he could have conveyed it quietly to the team. But they ruled out Malik’s statement affecting the morale of the players.

Later in the day, Malik appeared to back down saying his remarks had been ‘taken out of context.  Replying to a question, he said: “Bookies in South Africa, Dubai, Bombay and Karachi are busy but I know our team players are professional and this time they will play for their country”. Imran said he did not doubt the integrity of the team but was keeping a watch on Malik.

“I don’t know if you know he was absconding from justice until recently. So, my worry is not with the team but with him,” Imran said in Kolkata. Imran said the only way to get rid of corruption in cricket is to be more vigilant.

“We have to stamp out corruption from cricket, the simple rule all over the world is make crime not pay. So the more vigilant the boards are, ICC is ...(and) someone is caught, they should be given punishment and this is the only way and there is just one another dimension to it as spot-fixing is very difficult to pick,” he said.

Team not bothered

Pakistan’s ace speedster Umar Gul, who has taken 14 wickets in the tournament so far, said at Mohali that the team was not bothered by all these statements and is only focussed on the match.

“I am not aware of this until you pointed out. The kind of pressure we have had over the last several months and the way we have handled it, this is no pressure at all,” Gul told reporters.

Former PCB chief Shahryar Khan said Malik’s fears are unjustified and none of the players could even think of match- fixing in such an important clash. “I have been with these players for a very long time and I do not believe in such a vital match any player from any side would even contemplate fixing or doing a spot-fix in this particular match,” he said.

PMs in diplomacy innings before toss

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistan counterpart Yousaf Raza Gilani will meet for an informal chat at Chandigarh before heading to the PCA stadium at Mohali to watch the high-voltage encounter between their cricket teams on Wednesday, DHNS reports from New Delhi.

Gilani is likely to fly directly from Islamabad and reach Chandigarh at 10 am on the match day. The two PMs are expected to meet shortly afterwards for an informal chat. It is still not known whether they would meet over lunch. National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon will be accompanying Singh to Mohali. There is a possibility that Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, her son and MP Rahul Gandhi and daughter Priyanka along with her family may attend the match.

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