Dhoni said it was hard to have the satisfaction of achieving results negated by suspicion [EPA]

India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said that the match-fixing scandal engulfing the Pakistan team had wrongly brought suspicion to bear on innocent cricketers from across the sport – and that he was "disheartened" to find hard work on the field being questioned.

Dhoni told the NDTV channel on Monday that any players found guilty of match-fixing or spot-fixing – when isolated incidents such as no-balls are produced during a match for the benefit of betters or bookmakers – should be harshly dealt with.

"When you work so hard on a field, that's one thing you don't really want. You don't want somebody to comment that the match was fixed"

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, India captain

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has provisionally suspended three Pakistan players following an investigation into a newspaper report they had manipulated incidents in the fourth Test against England, which finished a week ago on Sunday.

"Match-fixing or spot-fixing brings disrepute to the game," Dhoni said.

"It does not restrict only to the people who are doing it or the side they belong to.

"I think people start associating it with the whole fraternity which means all the cricketers."

Pakistan Test captain Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif were suspended last week following the allegations in Britain's News of the World newspaper.

Strong punishment

Asked if he was advocating strong punishment if any players are found guilty, Dhoni said: "Definitely, harsh decisions need to be taken."

The News of the World said on Sunday that a fourth unidentified Pakistan player was being investigated and published quotes from batsman Yasir Hameed saying teammates were fixing matches.

Hameed issued a statement saying he had been duped into making the allegations by a reporter masquerading as an agent, and that he was only going on what was reported in the papers and not his own knowledge.

"At times what happens, if there is a game which is a very low scoring game, people often say it may be a fixed game," Dhoni added.

"When you work so hard on a field, that's one thing you don't really want. You don't want somebody to comment that the match was fixed.

"You work so hard for it. Every day you go to the gym or to a field, the net sessions, the travelling, the amount of pressure that you have to go through and after that you achieve something that is remarkable and people come up with...those kinds of words.

"It can be really disheartening."

Source: Agencies