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Pakistan trio face corruption panel
Salman Butt and Mohammads Amir and Asif travel to Doha for six-day hearing into spot-fixing charges levelled in England.
Last Modified: 04 Jan 2011 09:08 GMT
Butt arrives at Lord's as the spot-fixing scandal erupts on the tour of England in September [GALLO/GETTY]

An anti-corruption tribunal will decide the fate of three of Pakistan's leading cricketers when it starts a six-day hearing into spot-fixing charges made during a tour of England last year.

Suspended Test captain Salman Butt and bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir are preparing to travel to Doha, Qatar, to face the three-man tribunal from Thursday.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) believes it has prepared a strong case. If found guilty, the trio could face a life ban.

The ICC suspended Butt, Asif and Amir in September after a British tabloid alleged that they had bowled predetermined no-balls during the Lord's Test against England for the benefit of betting scams.

Appeals by Butt and Amir against the suspension were rejected in November. Asif did not appeal.

Pakistan's Twenty20 and one-day captain Shahid Afridi will join coach Waqar Younis as witnesses at the request of the ICC during the tribunal.

Promising talent

Younis told the ICC's code of commission he was surprised when Amir – one of the most promising bowling talents in world cricket – bowled a blatant no-ball, even asking the fast bowler "what the hell was that" during the break.

"My lawyer has prepared a strong case, and with the prayers of millions of fans, I hope the decision will come in our favour"

Mohammad Amir, Pakistan fast bowler

Afridi said when he met the trio at a hotel room in London he thought they were guilty.

Afridi also told reporters on Monday that the ICC had lot of important information on the case.

Butt has changed at least three lawyers since his suspension, including Pakistan's former law minister Khalid Ranjha. He will now be represented by London-based lawyer Yasin Patel during Doha hearing.

The tribunal is headed by English lawyer Michael Beloff with South Africa's Justice Albie Sachs and Kenyan Sharad Rao.

Eighteen-year-old Amir, who has taken 51 wickets in 14 Test matches with his left-arm fast bowling, was confident he would be exonerated.

"My lawyer has prepared a strong case, and with the prayers of millions of fans, I hope the decision will come in our favour,'' Amir said on Tuesday before heading to the Qatari capital.

"It's a nightmare for me and the toughest test of my life, but I am confident that I will cross through this tough phase.''

Butt criticised the ICC for victimising Pakistan cricketers when his appeal was rejected, while Asif has made no statement since the suspension.

Former Pakistan Test batsman Shoaib Mohammad said he hopes the trio will be cleared and able to represent Pakistan at next month's World Cup in Indian, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

"If not, I think Amir's absence will be felt the most because of his fearsome pace," Mohammad told Geo Television.

It is not the first time that international cricket has been hit by match-fixing and spot-fixing – the engineering of specific incidents in matches, such as deliberate no-balls.

Pakistan's former captain Salim Malik and Ataur Rehman were handed life bans in 1999 by Justice Malik Mohammad Qayyum, who also fined several leading players including Younis and Wasim Akram.

Former Indian captain Mohammad Azharuddin and South Africa's Hansie Cronje, who later died in a plane crash, were also handed similar punishments for their involvement in match-fixing.

Source:
AP
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