Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Pakistan out to Entertain While Three Face Music

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Pakistan out to Entertain While Three Face Music

Article excerpt

PAKISTAN are under orders to try to win over a crowd of 5,000 in Taunton today - but the most important action will be taking place 170 miles away.

Test captain Salman Butt and seam bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir set are in London to face a Pakistan Cricket Board inquiry into the 'spot-fixing' allegations which have put the rest of their tour, and maybe even their cricketing futures, in doubt.

The rest of the Pakistan squad were left to continue preparations for the two NatWest Twenty20s and five oneday internationals they will play against England over the next three weeks.

Into the crisis - which has so far seen four arrests from outside the squad and Butt, Asif and Amir's mobile phones confiscated by police after interviews at the team hotel during the Lord's Test - steps Pakistan's limited-overs captain Shahid Afridi.

The message from Afridi, as he and his team-mates practised at the County Ground to face a strong Somerset side, was to "entertain" and try to "forget" about ongoing events elsewhere.

"What has happened has gone," Afridi said. "We are here to play good cricket. It's a big challenge for me personally - playing in English conditions is always difficult.

"We are all looking forward to it. It has been really difficult. But we can forget everything, get out, play the cricket and entertain the people."

Shortly after most of the squad left the team hotel on the outskirts of Taunton yesterday morning, the three players summoned to a meeting with PCB chairman Ijaz Butt and the country's high commissioner began their own trip.

After an overnight stay in London, they are due to arrive this morning at the Pakistan High Commission.

They will doubtless again have to run the gauntlet of the media spotlight, and perhaps the protests of fellow Pakistanis and British Asians aghast at the allegations which have been made.

The PCB inquiry was announced on Tuesday and is the third line of investigation ongoing into newspaper reports which claim the three named Pakistan players were central to a plot to bowl no-balls to order as a means of defrauding illegal bookmakers during the Lord's Test. …

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