KARACHI: Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik has warned the country’s cricket team against match fixing and said they were under surveillance for Wednesday’s highly charged World Cup semi-final against India.
Pakistan cricket has been rocked by match fixing allegations, with three top players handed lengthy bans by an International Cricket Council anti-corruption tribunal.
“I had given a warning yesterday (Sunday) that there should be no match fixing. This time I am watching it very closely. If any such thing happens we will take action,” Malik told reporters in Karachi Monday.
The high-profile encounter between the South Asian rivals will be played in Mohali, India, amid tight security.
The clash which has overshadowed the World Cup final will be watched by Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on an invitation from his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh.
It will be the first game between the two teams on Indian soil since the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks that left 166 people dead and stalled a fragile four-year peace process between the nuclear-armed South Asian rivals.
Malik said the team was being monitored closely. “I should not have revealed but we have put them under strict surveillance, like who are the people meeting our players, with whom they are talking by telephone,” he said. “It was necessary after what had happened in London. We cannot take any chance,” he said and described the current members as clean.
“I am sure that our current team members are very clean and I hope that they will not disappoint the nation.”
Pakistan cricket has been hit by match fixing allegations which saw players Salman Butt, Mohammad Aamir and Mohammad Asif banned on charges related to fixing during last year’s Lord’s Test against England.
Malik advised the players to concentrate on the game. “They should continue the practice and go to bed early, rise up according to their schedule and dedicate themselves to the game for Pakistan.”
Malik welcomed reassurances from his Indian counterpart P Chidambaram on providing full security for the Pakistani players.