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Malik backtracks from 'match-fixing' warning to Pak team following furore

March 29, 2011 - Islamabad

Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik has backtracked from his match-fixing warning to the national cricket team after it backfired, inviting the wrath of former cricketers, critics and fans alike.

The minister sought to explain his remarks as a way of saving the Pakistan players, who are set to encounter India in a much-awaited World Cup semi-final clash in Mohali on March 30.

"I want to save my children (Pakistan players) and my request would be to not take the statement negatively," The Daily Times quoted Malik, as telling reporters.

Earlier on Monday, he had warned the Pakistan team that they were being kept under a close scrutiny before Wednesday's World Cup semi-final because of last year's spot-fixing scandal that had rocked Pakistan cricket.

"All the phone calls of the players are being kept under observation in this regard," he was quoted as telling media persons in Karachi yesterday.

Malik said that although he was "sure the team has very clean members", intelligence was being gathered on the Pakistani cricketers- including "who are meeting them and the position of their telephones"- which he said was "necessary because we can't take chance after what happened in London."

Three Pakistan players- Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir- have been banned for a minimum of five years each on spot-fixing charges in last year's Lord's Test against England.

Malik said that the Pakistani authorities would keep a close watch on Wednesday's semi-final to ensure that no fixing takes place.

"After the spot-fixing scandal we are taking no risks at all. But we are also satisfied that the present team members are also aware of the damage already caused to Pakistan cricket by the scandal and are clean," he maintained.


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