Pak win marred by ~~working on ball~~ controversy

Published: Wednesday, September 6, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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London: Pakistan were threatened to embroil in a fresh ball-tampering controversy with television pictures showing tearaway speedster Shoaib Akhtar allegedly ''working on the ball'' during their two-wicket win in the third One-dayer at the Rose Bowl.

International Cricket Council match refree Mike Procter later cleared Shaoib, declining to take any action after studying the footages.

Sky TV repeatedly showed slow motion pictures of Akhtar ''scuffing the ball with his nails'' in the 25th over, three balls after he had dismissed Ian Bell. With Tuesday's win, on Tuesday Pakistan had taken an unassailable 2-0 lead in the 5-match series.

The pictures showed a close-up of the Pakistani fast bowler walking back to his bowling mark and lightly pressing the tip of his left thumb against the ball.

Umpires Billy Doctrove and Nigel Llong checked the ball later in the England innings but did not change it.

ICC match referee Mike Procter made a statement at midnight that no action would be taken against the fast bowler after studying footage provided by Sky TV of the incident.

''After viewing television footage, the match umpires have decided no action should be taken against any Pakistan players,''the statement stated.

Former England captain Nasser Hussain, now Sky TV commentator, said Akhtar was ''very silly to do it in the current climate.'' Australian umpire Darrell Hair punished Pakistan for alleged ball-tampering in the fourth Test against England at The Oval last month which led to the first forfeiture of a Test match in the history of the game.

Younis Khan, who made a hundred in Pakistan's two-wicket win, however, played down the incident.

''In my eyes it looked like he was picking some dust.

Why make this a big issue? For 20 years this has been a big issue,'' Younis was quoted as saying by The Guardian.

Pakistan team manager and former captain Zaheer Abbas echoed his vice-captain when he said, ''Sky can show what they like but we're absolutely sure there is no problem.'' Pakistan and England play their last two ODIs on Friday and Sunday.

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