Pakistan’s scandal-filled tour of England reaches its conclusion at the Rose Bowl in Southampton on Wednesday with the deciding match of a closely fought one-day series that has been overshadowed by fresh fixing claims against both teams. Pakistan lost the opening two matches of the five-game series but drew level thanks to a 38-run victory at Lord’s on Monday, and momentum was firmly behind the tourists. “I’ve just told the players the best answer to all of what’s gone on is to play to your potential, which they have done,” Pakistan coach Waqar Younis said. Relations between the countries have hit a new low after Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ijaz Butt accused England’s players of deliberately losing the third one-dayer at The Oval on Friday. Despite England’s outrage and threats of legal action against Butt, the series continued at Lord’s under a cloud of controversy and with clear tension between the teams. Wahab Riaz, one of four Pakistan players to have been questioned by police earlier in the tour over allegations of spot fixing, and England batsman Jonathan Trott were involved in an altercation in the nets before the match. The England and Wales Cricket Board initially said there had simply been an exchange of words but Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi has since claimed Trott said to Riaz “you are a match fixer, what you are doing, you people have killed test cricket.” The pair was also reported to have clashed physically. There was no bad blood on the pitch but Pakistan came through the match stronger as England, chasing 266 to win, collapsed to 227 all out from 113 without loss. England captain Andrew Strauss is expecting the fifth one-dayer to be played in calmer conditions. “It is going to be harder than Monday’s game, because it was so new and raw and there was a lot of emotion around,” he said. “I think, and hope, things will calm down to a certain extent before the next game.” Younis will ask for more of the same from his young side, which seems to have been galvanized by the difficult end to the tour. “I’m so pleased the boys have kept their cool. I’m really proud of them,” he said. The tour has been dogged by scandal ever since three players – Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir – were implicated in spot-fixing allegations following a newspaper sting during the fourth test at Lord’s. The trio was charged and suspended under the ICC’s anti-corruption code and questioned by police before returning to Pakistan. Riaz was also interviewed by Scotland Yard but released without charge. Then came fresh corruption allegations on Saturday when an investigation was opened by the International Cricket Council following claims the scoring in Pakistan’s innings in Friday’s one-dayer was prearranged. Ijaz Butt believes there is “definitely a conspiracy against Pakistan cricket” and has threatened to sue those behind it. Afridi said as much on Tuesday and praised the way his team has finished the tour under the circumstances. “Plans are there and behind the scenes people are trying to finish off this team,” Afridi said. “But as a nation, we always rise to such occasions and handle such pressures.” Saeed, who on Tuesday denied reports he resigned as team manager, said fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar will be fit to play at the Rose Bowl despite a recent side injury. England, still looking to complete a clean sweep of series victories in all formats this summer, could recall one-day specialist Luke Wright after he was dropped for Paul Collingwood on Monday.
By: Dawn News