England players paid to lose?
New Delhi - Pakistan cricket chief Ijaz Butt has launched an extraordinary attack on England's players, saying they may have thrown a one-day international in return for "enormous" sums of cash.
Pakistan beat England in Friday's one-dayer at the Oval by 23 runs after the home side, chasing 242 to win, lost their last five wickets for just 17 runs.
But the Pakistani tourists, already accused of spot-fixing in a previous Test match, are now under new investigation by the International Cricket Council (ICC) over a suspicious scoring pattern in the Oval game.
In a remarkable intervention, Butt attempted to deflect suspicion back onto the England side.
"There is loud and clear talk in bookie circle that some English players were paid enormous amounts of money to lose the (Oval) match," the chairperson of the Pakistan Cricket Board told India's NDTV news channel late on Sunday.
"No wonder there was total collapse of the English side," he said.
Britain's Sun tabloid claimed to have been made aware of details of Pakistan's innings before the match had got underway.
The paper tipped off the ICC, which then watched as the scoring patterns in two suspect overs emerged as predicted, The Sun said.
But the overall result of the match was not believed to be fixed, the report added.
ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat said the new allegations- which follow the suspension of three Pakistan players for alleged involvement in spot-fixing - warranted further investigation.
Butt, however, told NDTV there was a conspiracy to "defraud Pakistan and Pakistani cricket" and threatened to reveal names of those involved in the conspiracy.
Pakistan's Salman Butt, Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Asif have all been questioned by British police over an alleged plot to bowl deliberate no-balls during last month's Test at Lord's.
A fourth player - seamer Wahab Riaz - was also interviewed by the British authorities. All have denied any wrongdoing.
On Friday, Scotland Yard announced that an initial file detailing evidence of alleged corruption had been forwarded to the Crown Prosecution Service, which will decide whether to proceed with the case.