Raza claims innocence, PCB in for full-scale inquiry

Lahore: The Pakistan Cricket Board on Tuesday said that Akram Raza`s case warranted a full-scale inquiry even as the off-spinner pleaded innocence in the illegal betting case, saying that his arrest was a "set-up".

A senior official said that the board will have to review whether to appoint Raza to the umpires` panel for the forthcoming Pakistan `A` and Afghanistan series in view of the betting case against him.

Raza, a former off-break bowler who played nine Tests and 49 One-day Internationals, was arrested on Saturday with six others after a police raid on a plaza in Gulberg area for running a betting racket.

Police have charged seven people, including Raza for taking illegal bets on the Indian Premier League (IPL) matches.

Raza, who is now a first-class umpire, got bail yesterday but will have to appear before a court next week in connection with the case.

Sultan Rana, who heads the domestic cricket section in the PCB, said that it was too early to say whether Raza was innocent or not.

"Certainly the case warrants an inquiry and we will decide on that soon. It is a serious thing because of the sensitivities involved in fixing issues," he said.

"The board will like to hear both sides of the story and we will give Raza a fair hearing when the inquiry is conducted," he said.

Rana conceded that because of the case the board will have to see if Raza can be given an assignment in the upcoming Pakistan `A` and Afghanistan series, scheduled to be held in the country.

But Raza said he was innocent and would fight his case.

"I will prove my innocence because I don`t want my umpiring career derailed now. I have already gone through enough in the past as well and I will fight my case through my lawyer," he said.

Raza said that he was called to the plaza by a friend and then the police raided the place.

"I really don`t know why I have been trapped in this case but I have nothing to do with any betting racket on the IPL matches. I will also be writing to the Pakistan Cricket Board to inform them of my innocence," he said.

The off-spinner was one of six players fined by the Justice Malik Qayyum judicial commission after a match-fixing inquiry against Pakistani players between 1998 and 2000.


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