London:Cricket's biggest scandal in recent times, spot-fixing, has just got even bigger and more scandalous with fresh revelations of fixing in the third ODI between Pakistan and England played on Friday.
The International Cricket Council has launched an investigation into 'The Sun' tabloid's claim that the 3rd England vs Pakistan ODI was rigged by illegal betting syndicates in India and Dubai. (Read: Gul causes mayhem as Pakistan beat England | Scorecard)
"Illegal bookies in India and Dubai apparently knew in advance what would happen so they could launch a betting coup. But The Sun's undercover team was able to pass details to ICC inspectors before the match began," the report said.
The tabloid had claimed it "received details of calls between a notorious Dubai-based match fixer and a Delhi bookie." (Watch Video Special: Pakistan match-fixing storm)
"We alerted ICC corruption busters led by ex-police chief Sir Ronnie Flanagan. After a frantic round of calls the ICC decided to issue a general warning to Pakistan's players, but by then the game had started," it said.
While thanking the British tabloid for its expose, the ICC CEO Haroon Lorgat said, "Broadly, the information from The Sun newspaper appears to be correct. So we feel it is incumbent upon us to launch a full inquiry. Although at this stage we aren't stating anything untoward has taken place"
The England and Wales Cricket Board has also asked the ICC for clarifications on the ODI probe. The ECB and ICC will meet later on Saturday.
According to a report in 'The Sun', bookies knew details of Pakistan's innings before the match had even begun.
"The probe centers on an individual within the team camp who is believed to be the ringleader, taking money from bookies and ensuring their orders are carried out," the paper said.
The ICC will now examine the suspicious scoring patterns in Pakistan innings, particularly two overs. Pakistan won the match by 23 runs.
One incident that did raise suspicion was the run out of Pakistani Skipper Shahid Afridi. Afridi was batting on 34 when his lapse cost him his wicket in the 40th over. At that moment most experts had termed it as lazy but now with the ICC investigating Pakistan's innings for alleged match fixing, this incident has come under the microscope.
Lorgat reiterated that the ICC maintains a zero tolerance policy towards corruption in the game.
"Any player or official found guilty of an offence will face the full rigour of our robust Anti-Corruption Code so that we can ensure the integrity of the sport is maintained," he said.
The latest revelations comes close on the heels of the spot-fixing scandal that led to the suspension of Pakistan Test captain Salman Butt and the pace duo of Mohammad Aamir and Mohammad Asif.
Speaking to NDTV, former ICC President, Ehsan Mani said he was astonished by the fresh allegations. "I m absolutely astonished to hear these allegations, obviously they seem to have some basis. For a team that, I assume it involves the Pak team and not the English but it may involve both, is already under the microscope, for them to come under such allegations again is absolutely astonishing," he said.
The Pakistan Cricket Board, which has been in denial right from the beginning of the match fixing scandal that broke out three weeks ago, continued to be in the same mode. "These are meaningless allegations without any proof. I haven't read the report so I can't comment any further," PCB chairman Ijaz Butt said. (Read: PCB refutes latest match-fixing report)
"The ICC has not got in touch with us on any such accusation. That is total imagination. There is no truth in it," he added.
Ehsan Mani, however, said that the Pakistan Cricket Board should not deny any allegations, unless the allegations are proven wrong.
"PCB should not deny any allegations, unless the allegations are proven wrong there is no point in denying it either," he said.
Mani also said it was surprising that that PCB has not taken lead in this matter.
"Since the first allegations came out, the PCB should have made a probe, rather than let the ICC or anyone else take the lead on it. I think the PCB needs to go back to the drawing board and just think about the way it has been handling, not only this whole issue but the whole issue of how the message of corruption is down to the players," he added.