Pakistan warn players


GUANGZHOU, November 11 – Pakistan have warned their cricket players to be wary of anyone approaching them to throw or fix matches at the Asian Games, after accusations of corruption were levelled at the Test team.Test captain Salman Butt and bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer have been provisionally suspended by the International Cricket Council (ICC) following spot-fixing allegations during the recent tour of England.

But Syed Arif Hasan, president of the Pakistan Olympic Association, said he was confident there would be no repeat at the Games, which open on Friday in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou.

"We’ve tried to take care of it to make sure nothing of the sort happens," Hasan told AFP on Thursday after a flag-raising ceremony to welcome Pakistani competitors and officials.

"We’ve specifically instructed them to be careful of strangers and unknown people."

Pakistan will be fielding a second-string men’s team in Guangzhou, where a week-long women’s tournament will be followed by the men’s competition, with all matches being played in the popular Twenty20 format.

The suspensions of the Test trio followed allegations in the British newspaper the News of the World that the three players contrived to bowl deliberate no-balls during the Lord’s Test against England in August.

No international teams have toured Pakistan since a militant attack on the Sri Lankan team’s bus in March last year, meaning huge financial losses and fears that interest in the sport will start to wane among Pakistani youth.

Adding to the sense of crisis, wicketkeeper Zulqarnain Haider on Tuesday announced his retirement from international cricket after abandoning the team and flying to London, saying he had received death threats.

Haider said he feared he and his family were in severe danger following an alleged separate match-fixing plot.