Pakistan MPs to probe match-fixing claims

Pakistan cricket is once again facing claims of match-fixing, with a parliamentary committee on Thursday summoning the sport’s top officials to answer questions in its probe into the allegations.

“The [parliamentary] standing committee on sports has summoned Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairperson Ijaz Butt, Australian tour coach Intikhab Alam, former captain Younus Khan and other officials on Monday,” the committee said in a statement.

The officials have been summoned to a hearing Monday days after video footage of a Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) meeting was leaked to the media, showing players and former officials raising suspicions about match-fixing during the Australia tour.

The footage showed Alam and his deputy, Aqib Javed, recording statements that wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal was involved in match-fixing in the second Test in Sydney, which Pakistan lost after holding a winning position.

Akmal dropped Australian batsman Michael Hussey three times and missed an easy run-out, with Hussey going on to accumulate 138 runs (not out) in the second innings. Pakistan, chasing a modest 175 to win, lost the Test by 36 runs despite leading by 206 runs after the first innings.

Pakistan suffered a whitewash on its December-February tour of Australia, losing all three Tests, all five one-day internationals and a Twenty20 match, prompting the PCB to investigate.

Following the PCB’s inquiry, the board banned Younus and Australia tour captain Mohammad Yousuf for an indefinite period, while former captain Shoaib Malik and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan were banned for one year and fined heavily.

Kamran Akmal, Shahid Afridi and Umar Akmal were also fined heavily.

‘Infighting and breach of discipline’
At the time PCB said it had banned and fined the players for “infighting and breach of discipline,” but said there had been no match-fixing.

However, the video footage aired by local television channels showed Alam raising suspicions at the PCB inquiry about Akmal’s performance in Sydney.

“I was flabbergasted when Kamran missed that run-out,” Alam said in his statement. “The batsman was far from the crease and the ball was in Kamran’s hands but he missed the chance. I have serious doubts and have heard stories about match-fixing.”

Javed also raised suspicions of match-fixing.

“I have reservations over the way he [Kamran Akmal] 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% that there is match-fixing, but I have my strong suspicions,” Javed said in his statement.

Kamran Akmal in his statement denied any wrongdoing.

“I got the ball but was totally blind and couldn’t run out the batsman,” said Kamran.

PCB refused to make any comment on the leaked video footage and on the suspicions of match-fixing.

PCB legal adviser Taffazul Rizvi, however, said players were responsible for leaking the footage to the media.

“PCB had the video recordings of the proceedings since February and there was no leakage,” he said.

‘Players must have leaked recordings’
“But once we gave the video and audio recordings to some of the players and their legal representatives while dealing with their appeals, it was leaked and it’s obvious who leaked it,” Rizvi told Agence-France Presse.

A one-man tribunal comprising of retired judge Irfan Qadir is dealing with the appeals.

On Friday, Pakistan also failed to defend its World Twenty20 title in the West Indies, losing to Australia in the semifinal. — AFP

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