Lahore: With just a couple of days to go before the high-intensity World Cup semi-final clash between India and Pakistan, Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik has stepped up pressure on the country’s players by advising them to stay away from match-fixing.
Talking to reporters on Monday, Malik said that he hopes that the Pakistan team will stay away from fixing and will give their best shot at winning the much-anticipated clash against arch-rivals India.
Malik also said that he is keeping a "close watch" on the activities of the players of Pakistani cricket team to ensure that they do not interact with any suspicious person.
"I gave a warning that there should be no match-fixing. I am keeping a close watch. If any such thing happens, we are going to take action," Malik said.
The Pakistan cricket team is currently in Mohali where they will take on India in the semi-final of the 2011 World Cup on Wednesday.
Malik said that though he was "sure the team has very clean members", intelligence is being gathered on the Pakistani cricketers, including "who are meeting them and the position of their telephones".
"This is necessary because we can`t take a chance after what happened in London," he said, in a reference to a recent match-fixing controversy in Britain involving three Pakistani players.
Pakistan players have always been under the scanner for their links with bookies. Three Pakistan cricketers including former captain Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir were recently accused by British prosecutors of spot-fixing or rigging incidents, such as the bowling of no-balls at pre-agreed times, during the fourth Test at Lord`s last August.
Malik also had some advice for the Pakistani players.
"Do your practise, sleep early at night and wake at the proper time. They should dedicate themselves to Pakistan for the match," he said.
There is a lot of excitement about the India-Pakistan clash in the World Cup semi-final, he said.
"There is a lot of love for the cricketers and we hope they will win the game for us. We expect they will not disappoint the people," he said.
Malik also welcomed his Indian counterpart P Chidambaram`s remarks about adequate security being provided to the Pakistani team while in India in light of possible threats to the players.
He noted that Chidambaram had said special arrangements would be made for the game in Mohali, including the deploying of some 1,000 commandoes.
"I am sure of his (Chidambaram’s) capability. He is a man of wisdom and authority and has the capability to handle things well," Malik said.