Pakistan's had a rough spell of late.
Catastrophic flooding that has inundated and devastated an entire fifth of the country? Yep. Rampant gun battles in its largest and most vital city, Karachi? Yeah, that too. A never-ending insurgency along the country's border with Afghanistan? Definitely. A politically inept and hopelessly out of touch government? Of course.
Now come revelations that Pakistani cricketeers are guilty of fixing the results in return for money during their recent match with England. To be fair, the British tabloid News of the World broke the story -- but the evidence sure seems compelling. Pakistan's national cricket side has been thrown into crisis, with talk of an international suspension in the cards. Cricket legend and former Pakistani MP Imran Khan has called for the accused to be banned for life if the charges are true.
The News claimed that undercover reporters taped an exchange with London businessman Mazhar Majeed in which the fixer accepted around $230,000 in return for Pakistan's side bowling three no-balls* at specific times. Majeed fingered Pakistani skipper Salman Butt, bowlers Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif, and wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal as being in on the conspiracy, and further bragged that he runs a massive underground betting organization which has netted its customers -- and crooked cricketeers -- "masses and masses" of money. Majeed has since been arrested by British police, and bailed without charge -- though he is due to appear before police at a later date.
Pakistanis are understandably furious at the scam, but this is hardly the first time that Pakistan's found itself in the cricket world's darkside. It's hard to imagine a worse possible time for this latest scandal.
Seriously, leave Pakistan alone!
*The penalty for no-balls -- an illegal delivery by a bowler -- is one run awarded to the batting team. An additional ball must also be bowled, and the ways in which a batter can be ruled out are reduced.
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