Dubai/New Delhi: Reacting sharply to a British newspaper claim that the India-Pakistan semifinal in the 2011 cricket World Cup may have been fixed, the ICC tonight dismissed the claim as "spurious". ICC also dismissed the claim that it was investigating the semi-final.
"The story carried by the newspaper, in which it has claimed that the ICC is investigating the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 semi-final between India and Pakistan, is baseless and misleading," ICC CEO Haroon Lorgat said in a statement. "The ICC has no reason or evidence to require an investigation into this match."
ICC asserted that Indo-Pak clash was clean and the 2011 World Cup was one of the most successful World Cup organised so far.
"It is indeed sad for spurious claims to be made which only serve to cause doubt on the semi-final of one of the most successful ICC Cricket World Cups ever," Lorgat said.
Earlier, allegations that the World Cup semifinal was fixed were also rubbished by players and those associated with the game even as the Bollywood actress at the centre of the fresh controversy threatened to sue a British newspaper which carried the report.
Former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly found little substance in the report published in a London newspaper Sunday Times.
"I don't know how they have got the information but let me tell that India are world champions and nobody can take that away from us," Ganguly told reporters on Monday. Former India spinner Bishen Singh Bedi also did not find any merit in the allegations.
"I am hurt as a cricketer that the name of the Indian team has been dragged into it when they played the semifinal against Pakistan. I think that is a load of rubbish," Bedi said.
The newspaper carried out a sting operation on a Delhi-based bookie, who claimed that the Indian bookmakers are fixing the results of England county games and international fixtures and they are using a Bollywood actress as a honeytrap to recruit players from countries. The report also claimed that India's semi-final match in last year's World Cup was rigged.
Stung by the allegations, Nupur Mehta, whose picture has been used by Sunday Times along with the story, has said she is in no way connected with any match-fixing.
Nupur, who had worked in Sunny Deol starrer 'Jo Bole So Nihal' (2005), told PTI, "I have been accused of something that I have not done. All I would say is I am not guilty of any such thing."
"The picture that they have used was taken during my film, 'Jo Bole So Nihal'," she said.
The starlet was not named in the report but she has threatened to take legal action against the British daily. "I intend to take action against them."
Meanwhile, BCCI has declined to comment on the report.
BCCI vice-president Rajiv Shukla, who is also the IPL Chairman, said unless they received something concrete from the ICC or any agency, they will not comment on the issue.
"Newspapers can publish anything, unless we get something concrete from an agency or ICC, I don't think it would be appropriate to react to it," Shukla told reporters.
"We haven't got anything from ICC, unless we get it from some police agency, it would be inappropriate to react to media reports," he reiterated.
Reacting to the allegations, former ICC President Ehsan Mani said he was "taking the report seriously".
Mani suggested that the best way tackle the menace was to legalise betting and counselled that governments should take steps to regulate betting.
"ICC and cricket boards have not been able to get to the root cause (bookies) of the problem. So far it (betting) is underground. If you regulate it then you can have administrative control, you can monitor it and unusual pattern can be highlighted," he said.
"There is no other way. A lot of money, close to 500-600 million, will be on bet during the next Asia Cup match between India and Pakistan," he added.
Just a few weeks ago former Essex bowler Mervyn Westfield became the first English cricketer to be jailed for corruption after he admitted taking money to fix a match against Durham in September 2009.
Bedi was miffed at the way the game is being managed and suggested the two bookies be put behind the bars.
"It is ugly the way cricket is being handled by the ICC and BCCI. How can these two idiots even project the game the way they are trying to do. I think they should be hauled up and the police be told to put these swines behind the bars.
"How they are going to prove what they are saying, you can't try and malign a game like cricket. The ICC and the BCCI must assert their authority to position.
The former left-arm spinner felt the problem of fixing has been existing for a while now.
"Neither the ICC nor the BCCI can dismiss this particular expose very easily. I would like to think that they have a problem in hand, not now, they have had it for a long, long time. But let me also tell you that cricket is the only sport which reflects the time you live in, and this is not the only expose you are talking about.
"We have heard so many things about the Commonwealth Games and various other political upheavals... how can cricket be an exception. This expose I would appreciate if there were authentic information. There is still room for improvement. I am not saying the BCCI and the ICC is clean."
Another former player, Atul Wasan said that corruption is rampant in cricket, but rubbished all allegations.
"I don't think these allegations or claims are true. Unless we get proofs how can the ICC or other agencies (investigate). All we can do is be more vigilant. You cannot root out people trying to fix matches," Wasan said.
"I don't think it's a conspiracy. I think it's just one of those things because betting is rampant, gambling is rampant, and these bookies, without substantial proofs, are talking through their hats.
"Every time you react when an expose comes up like this, you will be shouting yourself hoarse. We saw conclusive proofs, tangible proofs, three cricketers going to jail last year... that was brilliant," Wasan said referring to the jail sentences to Pakistan cricketers Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer for involvement in corruption.