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Friday, August 29, 2014

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WE ARE GOING TO IMPROVE AND GET BETTER

WE ARE GOING TO IMPROVE AND GET BETTER

Goals either side of the break from Charlie Adam and Luke Varney secured the Tangerines’ victory on a rain swept night but the course of the match was all but decided when 25-year-old Michael Oliver, the Premier League’s youngest referee, sent-off Baggies duo Pablo Ibanez and Gonzalo Jara inside the opening half hour.

However, a superb solo effort from West Brom’s Youssuf Mulumbu, who scored five minutes from time with a brilliant shot into the top corner after beating several Blackpool defenders, set up a dramatic finish.

Austria international Paul Scharner then went close to an equaliser for Roberto di Matteo’s side, who remained sixth despite this defeat, when he headed narrowly wide from a free-kick before Steven Reid blasted over the top.

Both promoted sides had chances to score further goals and, in the final minute of the four added on at the end of the game, West Brom forced a corner only for Blackpool to catch them on the counter-attack.

But DJ Campbell shot wide to fray Blackpool manager Ian Holloway’s nerves.

Oliver’s decision to show red card to ‘last man’ Ibanez, who brought down Campbell in the box in the 11th minute, was questionable as Jara was still in close attendance.

But Oliver had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and Adam scored from the ensuing penalty, despite former England goalkeeper Scott Carson getting a hand to the ball.

“I think the game as a spectacle, with the rules the referee has got to apply…I’d prefer a yellow card (to Ibanez) and the penalty,” Holloway told Sky Sports.

“It’s a great move, probably the best of the game, a great ball from Charlie to DJ Campbell, who has turned him. But is it really a sending off?

“I thought that really ruined the game as a spectacle.”

Holloway added: “We are trying to learn to play at this level. I’ve never had that (playing against nine) as a manager before but I’m delighted we’ve won at home, even though we’ve had only four home games this season.

“That’s 13 points we’ve got now and 13 points at this stage of the season, I’d like to say to the people who said we’d only get 10, ‘you are wrong again’.

“We are going to improve and get better.”

West Brom have won plaudits for their passing game this season but there was no denying the brutality of Jara’s two-footed challenge on Varney near the corner flag that saw the Chilean defender sent off in the 29th minute.

“It would have been nice to see a good football game but that was destroyed by the events on the night,” said West Brom boss di Matteo.

“The first incident was a penalty but, in my opinion, it was not a sending-off as we had a player who was close enough,” the former Chelsea and Italy midfielder added.

“The second one, he got it right the referee, it was a sending-off.

“Our player (Jara), he lost it a bit in the head with the first decision and he made a terrible tackle. Then we just had to try not to concede another goal and hit them on the break.”

Despite their seemingly insurmountable handicap, West Brom continued to press and there was a sense of relief among home fans when Varney turned in a cross from Elliot Grandin past Carson just after the hour mark.

PAKISTAN LEVEL SERIES 1-1

PAKISTAN LEVEL SERIES 1-1

South Africa had scored 287 for the loss of eight wickets in their allotment of 50 overs in the day-night second one-day international. The Proteas won the first ODI on October 29 by eight wickets.

It was scarcely-scriptable and only when Razzaq hit his tenth six in the last over, slogging Albie Morkel over midwicket to climax an unimaginable orgy of power-hitting, was a Pakistan win even worth contemplating; until then he had played to a backdrop of impending, imminent doom. To even get to that point needing 14 was a feat because for 99 overs Pakistan looked a distant second best; a solid, now-to-be-forgotten century from Colin Ingram, hands from Hashim Amla and JP Duminy and the continuing refusal of Pakistan’s top order to turn up, the distinct story till then.

Shahid Afridi and Fawad Alam had tried gamely to make something of the disaster of 70 for 4 in the 19th over. The spinners were on, Afridi was around so inevitably some fun was had. When Afridi went in the 30th, the score at 136, still the best they could hope for was an honourable scrap.

Razzaq began quietly, expressive as a stone, and even a dance-down six off Robin Peterson four overs after Afridi left felt decorative. Alam, meanwhile, was getting bogged down by his own inability to clear a field. But South Africa relaxed, the pair stuck at it. Alam suddenly got going and Razzaq smoked a couple more sixes. By the 40th over, at 200 for 5, theoretically it looked possible — in this age of Twenty20 at least — even if, in reality, it didn’t feel gettable.

But for once, Pakistan timed their Powerplay right and when Johan Botha was taken for 11 in the very first, a little tension crept in. Only a little though, for Alam went soon, Morne Morkel bowled two fine overs, there was the inevitable run-out and even though Razzaq had reached his fifty, it was done and dusted.

The 47th over, bowled poorly by Charles Langeveldt, was pivotal. Razzaq launched a sequence of length balls for three sixes in his favourite areas — flat-batted over extra cover, high over long-on and down the ground. Eighteen runs but no expression. Wahab Riaz’s run-out off the last ball was merely collateral damage as 53 from 24 became 33 from 18.

Razzaq had decided at the fall of Alam that if the match was to be won, it would be by him alone, so with the tail in, several singles were turned down. With 25 needed from 12, Langeveldt was lofted down the ground and then pulled with cartoonish violence to midwicket. By the time Razzaq had taken the 14 needed off the last over he had scored 63 of the last 65, effectively from the 45th over onwards. Six sixes came in the last four overs, and only at the very end, after crashing a drive through point, did he let his emotions out, dropping his bat and trying to run but not knowing where to go.

That put to shade all that went before it. South Africa’s real work had been done with the bat and Ingram’s second ODI century was a real old-school effort. The start was edgy, even if it contained a classy punch through midwicket. But once he jumped down the track and lofted Razzaq down the ground, nerves were shed.

2011 ICC Cricket World Cup Venues

2011 ICC Cricket World Cup Venues

Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium:

Sher-e-Bangla Cricket Stadium or Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium (SBNS), is a cricket ground in the Mirpur Thana district of Dhaka, Bangladesh. It holds 35,000 people and was built in 2006. At first, it was named “Mirpur Stadium”, but the Bangladeshi government later renamed it as “Shere-e-Bangla Cricket Stadium.”

The Shere Bangla National Cricket Stadium, named after AK Fazlul Haque, one of the country’s most renowned leaders and freedom fighters in the 1940s, is situated about 10 kilometres outside the centre of Dhaka. The move from the Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka to Mirpur was met with much resistance, but the BCB had decided they needed a stadium dedicated exclusively to cricket, and carried on despite criticism.

The most striking feature of the ground is the drainage facility which is probably the best in the subcontinent. The ground was originally built for football and athletics and was hence rectangular in shape. To bring it back to a shape suited for cricket, a lot of demolition had to be done,and also the athletics tracks had to be dug up.About three feet of soil was excavated to remove all the red clay. PVC pipes were fit in before filling it up with rock chips and sand and then grass. The slope is nice and even, a difference of 29 inches from the wicket to the boundary.

The ground hosted its first Test when Bangladesh played India in May 2007; a timely start was made possible because of the efficient drainage after heavy overnight showers. The wicket was pretty flat and slow. The stadium is being renovated ahead of the 2011 ICC world cup.

EDEN GARDENS:

Eden Gardens is a cricket ground in Kolkata, India. It is the home of the Bengal cricket team and the Indian Premier League’s Kolkata Knight Riders, as well as being a Test and One Day International ground. It is the largest cricket stadium in India considering seating capacity.

R. Premadasa Stadium :

R. Premadasa Stadium is a cricket stadium situated on Khettarama Road, Maligawatta, Colombo, Sri Lanka. The stadium was, prior to June 1994, known as the Khettarama Cricket Stadium and is today one of the main venues in which the Sri Lankan cricket team play.

SOUTH AFRICA WON BY SIX WICKETS

SOUTH AFRICA WON BY SIX WICKETS

Tsotsobe, with a career-best 3-16, and skipper Botha (3-31) led a spirited South African bowling to restrict Pakistan to a paltry 119 at the Abu Dhabi Stadium in a match whose income will go to flood victims in Pakistan.

Over two million people were displaced in the worst-ever floods in Pakistan.

Jean-Paul Duminy hit an elegant 41 while Colin Ingram remained unbeaten with 46 as South Africa reached the target after losing three early wickets for 26.

The two left-handers shared a solid 66-run partnership for the fourth wicket after paceman Shoaib Akhtar gave Pakistan some hope with the quick wickets of opener Loots Bosman and AB de Villiers in the third over.

Ingram hit two towering sixes and four boundaries during his 38-ball knock.

Duminy hit five boundaries as the two dominated the Pakistan bowling which initially looked threatening.

Botha said he was happy to lead the series.

“It was a clinical performance and I am happy at the way the young guns stepped in after we lost three early wickets especially Ingram and Duminy,” said Botha.

Duminy, who also took two beautiful catches, was declared man-of-the-match.

Earlier, Tsotsobe and off-spinner Botha bowled tightly to derail Pakistan, who won the toss and batted on a flat pitch.

Misbahul Haq, recalled after being axed following the World Twenty20 in May this year, topscored with 27 with a six and two boundaries.

Skipper Shahid Afridi hit a rapid seven-ball 25 before he became one of Botha’s three victims.

Pakistan had raced to 16 in the second over before Tsotsobe removed openers Imran Farhat (10) and Shahzaib Hasan (nine) in the sixth.

Botha then removed Moha-mmad Hafeez (13), Afridi and Abdul Razzaq (four) to end Pakistan’s hopes of reaching a respectable total.

Pakistan coach Waqar Younus was disappointed over the poor batting.

“We scored 25-30 runs less than we expected,” said Waqar, whose team lost the last six wickets for a mere 35 runs.

“We need to bat with strategy in the next game.”

This is Pakistan’s home series shifted to United Arab Emirates due to security fears.

The two teams meet in the second Twenty20 here on Wednesday.

They then play the first two one-day internationals and the second Test in Abu Dhabi. Dubai will stage the last three one-day and the first Test.

ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC HEADS IN THE WINNING GOAL

ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC HEADS IN THE WINNING GOAL

Robinho and Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored the goals for Milan as Michele Pazienza was sent-off for the hosts for a pair of handballs before Ezequiel Lavezzi hit an ingenious late consolation.

Milan now trail Lazio by just two points in second place while Napoli, who were by far the better side for long periods, even with 10 men, remain sixth.

“We exploited our numerical advantage until it was 2-0 but then we struggled with a lack of concentration and some mistakes,” said Milan coach Massimilliano Allegri.

“Napoli had a great desire to equalise, we lost many one-on-one battles and fluffed our final balls.

“We’re on 17 points, we’ve had four (league) wins in a row, we just messed up in Madrid.”

Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri said his team were unrecognisable until they were down to 10 men.

“We need to forget the league table and play with calm, the responsibility of being near the top inhibits. We weren’t us,” he said.

“After taking this ridiculous sending off, paradoxically we played better but I would have preferred to stay with 11.”

Napoli, as ever, were slow out of the blocks and the first chance fell to Milan as Robinho’s low shot was saved by Morgan De Sanctis on the quarter hour.

But on 22 minutes they were ahead as Robinho played a one-two with substitute Massimo Oddo before finishing inside the far corner.

However, Napoli’s disorganised defending was the true architect as they had seven defenders and their goalkeeper in the area but still failed to pick up the Brazilian’s run.

The reaction from the hosts was swift as four minutes later Lavezzi got down the right and crossed for Marek Hamsik, whose near post toe-poke went wide.

Hamsik then crossed from the left but Edinson Cavani missed his shot and substitute Hassan Yebda attacked with the wrong foot, playing the ball almost back to where it had come from.

Andrea Dossena got down the left and crossed for Cavani but he didn’t get hold of his shot and it bobbled wide.

Pazienza was then dismissed, somewhat harshly, for a second yellow card after picking up both for handball offences.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic tried an acrobatic effort from seven yards that De Sanctis parried in stoppage time.

And before the half-time whistle Christian Abbiati made a stunning one-handed save from Lavezzi’s diving header after Hamsik’s pin-point cross.

Even down to 10 men, Napoli were on the attack after the break and Lavezzi volleyed just over from Dossena’s centre.

But Milan were dangerous on the counter and Ibrahimovic should have done better than curl a shot into De Sanctis’s arms when well placed.

Midway through the second period Milan wasted a two-on-two break as Ibrahimovic’s pass to Pato was too strong and De Sanctis blocked the Brazilian’s shot from an angle.

Napoli paid again for poor defending on 71 minutes as Oddo burst down the right and crossed into the centre where the unmarked Ibrahimovic headed home from six yards out.

Lavezzi was a thorn in Milan’s side all night and a determined run down the right saw him skip past Sokratis Papastathopoulos with a clever back-heel and tee up Cavani who, having an awful night, shot well wide.

But on 78 minutes he went shoulder to shoulder with Papastathopoulos again and after they both fell over, Lavezzi over the ball, the Argentine managed to quickly stand up and flick the ball over Abbiati and in off the bar.

De Sanctis made a late save to deny Mathieu Flamini and even charged forwards for a couple of corners but Napoli were left frustrated despite a stirring fight-back and inspired play from Lavezzi.

I ALWAYS WORKED HARD FOR THIS MOMENT……

I ALWAYS WORKED HARD FOR THIS MOMENT……

Manassero, at 17 years and 188 days, won by four shots from Spain’s Ignacio Garrido, beating the previous Tour record for youngest winner set in 2008 when New Zealand’s Danny Lee (18y 113d) won the Johnnie Walker Classic.

The Italian, a former British Amateur Champion whose previous best European Tour result was a third place at this year’s Omega Masters, also becomes the youngest full European Tour Member as a result of this win, eclipsing the previous record held by Seve Ballesteros by just 12 days.

Manassero was into his stride early, sinking a 12-foot birdie putt at the third before nailing a 40-footer at the par-three sixth as the gap to Boyd closed to one shot.

The youngster dropped a shot on the seventh but he turned the screw over the back nine, three successive birdies at 13, 14 and 15 taking him clear of the pack.

“I always worked hard for this moment and now I’ve finally done it, it’s an unbelievable moment,” Manassero told Sky Sports.

“When I made that putt for par on 12 to stay two behind I kept going and I made some great shots coming in, and some good putts.

“That was the turning point as well as the birdie on 13. I was very nervous. At the beginning I was nervous and then I was a bit more relaxed and then I was very nervous again at the end.

“I couldn’t really imagine to be a winner in the first year, it was really just to keep my card, but now I’m a winner already.”

Manassero’s charge to the top of the leaderboard was aided by overnight leader Gary Boyd’s final-round capitulation, which saw the 24-year-old Englishman string together a horror sequence of bogey, double-bogey, bogey on holes 15 through 17 as he slipped to 11 under and a tie for third place with Holland’s Joost Luiten, Peter Lawrie of Ireland and Swede Christian Nilsson.

Garrido’s surge to second place was aided by three birdies over the back nine, the Spaniard making gains at holes 13, 16 and 17 as he signed for a final-round 68.

ENGLAND WON BY FIVE WICKETS

ENGLAND WON BY FIVE WICKETS

The Swalec Stadium was only three-quarters full on a humid, overcast day after a dreadful week for Pakistan with further newspaper allegations of corruption in their camp emerging overnight.

England, set 127 to win in the first of two matches scheduled for Cardiff, were struggling on 62 for five at the halfway stage with Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi taking two cheap wickets with his brisk wrist spin.

However, Eoin Morgan was badly dropped at short fine-leg on 13 by Shoaib Akhtar attempting a reverse sweep and England eventually reached their target with 17 balls to spare.

After Paul Collingwood had asked Pakistan to bat following a 30-minute rain delay, England’s premier bowler Graeme Swann showed his versatility in all forms of the game with two for 14 from his four overs. Pakistan scored from only 10 of the off-spinner’s deliveries.

Michael Yardy was almost as parsimonious from the other end, taking one for 21 with his flat left-armers.A late burst of 38 runs from 29 balls between Umar Akmal (35 not out) and Afridi (16 not out), who was dropped twice, took Pakistan to 126 for four. It was the first time they had failed to hit a six in a T20 match.

Shoaib Akhtar, 35 last month, recaptured the searing pace of his youth, albeit in the knowledge that he only needed to bowl a total of 24 deliveries with an opening-wicket maiden.

Although England faltered midway, losing four consecutive wickets from the last ball of an over, their target was always too small.

TWIN GIANTS

TWIN GIANTS

Top-seeded Nadal pounded his way past Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan 6-2, 7-6, 7-5 in the featured night session match on Arthur Ashe Stadium court.

Fourth-seeded Murray saw off Jamaica’s Dustin Brown 7-5, 6-3, 6-0 on the same court earlier in the day.

Nadal next plays France’s Gilles Simon who defeated Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany 4-6, 6-3, 1-6, 6-1, 6-3, while Murray takes on Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland who ousted Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina 7-5, 6-3, 6-4.

There were mixed fortunes for US hopes with teenager Ryan Harrison squandering three match points against Ukraine’s Sergiy Stakhovsky in a fifth set tie-breaker before losing 6-3, 5-7, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6.

But Sam Querrey and John Isner both won through in the same quarter as Murray.

At the start of the day there were nine Spaniards and seven Frenchmen involved in the 16 ties that made up the top half of the draw.

By the end of play, seven of the Spanish had survived (the two losers going down to compatriots) and only two Frenchmen remained.

Nadal — seeking in New York to become just the seventh man to complete the career Grand Slam of Australian, French, Wimbledon and US crowns — was made to dig deep from 1-5 down in the second set tie-break against the 39th-ranked Istomin, taking six points in a row.

He then grabbed the only additional break he needed in the 12th game of the third set to clinch the win.

Murray had been expected to sweep past the unconventional Brown with little or no effort, and in the end he did so.

But he was left scratching his head at times in the first set by the towering Brown’s unorthodox play focused around a huge, whipping serve and some outrageous drop shots.

On top of that, early play was suspended for around 20 minutes as, courtesy of Hurricane Earl churning up the US eastern seaboard, a rain shower dampened the Flushing Meadows courts.

In the end, the dreadlock Brown, ranked 123rd in the world, had little left to offer and Murray even went for some extra practice afterwards to complete his day.

The emotional high of the day for home fans came out on the atmospheric Grandstand Court where 18-year-old Harrison, the youngest player left in the tournament, had three match points against Ukraine’s Stakhovsky in the fifth set tie-break.

But a double fault and some brave net play from a tiring Stakhovsky saved the day for the east European.

There was better news for US hopes, however, shortly afterwards on the adjacent Louis Armstrong Court when Wimbledon marathon man Isner won through to the third round with a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6, 6-4 win over Marco Chiudinelli of Switzerland, setting up a third round clash against Mikhail Youzhny of Russia.

Querrey then cruised past Spain’s Marcel Granollers 6-2, 6-3, 6-4.

Tommy Robredo got the Spanish challenge off to strong start when his French opponent, Julian Benneteau, retired in a second set tie-break after injuring his left wrist stretching for a shot. Robredo had won the first set 6-4.

David Ferrer, the 10th seed, then bulldozed his way past Benjamin Becker of Germany 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 and Feliciano Lopez saw off the challenge of France’s Benoit Paire 6-4, 6-7, 5-7, 7-6, 6-2.

French hopes suffered another blow when Jeremy Chardy fell to Daniel Gimeno-Traver of Spain 4-6, 6-2, 6-0, 7-6 and then Fernando Verdasco ousted Chardy’s compatriot Adrian Mannarino 6-1, 6-2, 6-2.

But serve and volley expert Michael Llodra brought some consolation for the French when he defied a painful left foot injury to defeat Victor Hanescu of Romania 7-6, 6-4, 6-2.

And late in day, Simon came through against Kohlschreiber to set up a third round clash with Nadal.

IT WAS HOT BUT I FEEL GOOD NOW……NISHIKORI

IT WAS HOT BUT I FEEL GOOD NOW……NISHIKORI

Swiss second seed Federer, seeking his 17th Grand Slam crown and a seventh consecutive trip to the US Open final, eliminated Germany’s 104th-ranked Andreas Beck 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 in one hour and 41 minutes at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Federer jumped ahead 5-0 in only 12 minutes, claimed the first set in 27 minutes and was seldom threatened.

“It’s the perfect start,” Federer said. “I played Monday, had two days off, I had another easy one physically and here I am in the third round feeling like I’m completely in the tournament.”

Federer, a five-time US Open champion, will face 109th-ranked Paul-Henri Mathieu to decide a berth in the last 16 on the Flushing Meadows hardcourts.

“Body is well. Mentally obviously I’m fresh, too. I haven’t played too much, so I’m really eager,” Federer said. “I’m ready for tough matches coming around. It’s good I’m saving myself, really, and my game is fine.”

Serbian third seed Djokovic advanced 7-5, 6-3, 7-6 (8/6) over German Philipp Petzschner, saying, “I was shaky the whole match but I was able to hold on.” Djokovic will face American James Blake for a berth in the round of 16.

Djokovic reached the 2007 US Open final and the Flushing Meadows semifinals the past two years, each time losing to Federer, whom he could again face in the semifinals.

Asked if he could duplicate Federer’s now-infamous between-the-legs shot from a Monday victory and last year’s semifinal triumph over Djokovic, the Serbian drew a laugh from the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd.

“No, I have something else between my legs. But don’t worry, I will not show it to you tonight,” Djokovic said.

“Definitely it’s not one of my better shots. I think Roger is better at that.”

Russian Davydenko, a 2006 and 2007 US Open semifinal loser to Federer, fell 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 to 38th-ranked Richard Gasquet. He next faces South African Kevin Anderson, a 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 7-6 (7/2) winner over Brazil’s Thomaz Bellucci.

Gasquet, among a record 12 Frenchmen to reach the second round, lost only seven of 52 points on his first serve as Davydenko made his quickest US Open exit since 2005.

Davydenko joined a US Open seeded scrap heap that includes No. 7 Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic, US ninth seed Andy Roddick and Croatia’s Cilic, who dropped the longest match of the week just 60 seconds shy of five hours.

“It was very humid. It wasn’t easy to get oxygen,” Cilic said. “I started to feel cramps in the end of the fourth set. But with that, I was all right toward the end of the match. It was just the general tiredness and exhaustion.”

Nishikori, ranked 147th, fought off cramping in the hottest day of a scorching week to defeat Australian Open semifinalist Cilic 5-7, 7-6 (8/6), 3-6, 7-6 (7/3), 6-1 in an exhausting five-hour duel.

“I was cramping from the second set but I kept fighting and fighting and got the fourth set tie-breaker. That was key for me,” Nishikori said.

“It was hot but I feel good now.”

Nishikori, whose run to the US Open fourth round in 2008 was his best Slam showing and the best here by a Japanese man since 1937, next faces Spanish 21st seed Albert Montanes, who beat Australian Carsten Ball 6-4, 6-3, 6-1.

Swedish fifth seed Robin Soderling reached the third round in straight sets as well, dumping American Taylor Dent 6-2, 6-2, 6-4.

“I’m pretty confident. I know I can do well when I play well,” Soderling said. “But you need to play well. No one can play well every match. So anything can happen. I can lose first round. I can go on really deep as well.”

US 19th seed Mardy Fish, who won two titles in July and was runner-up at Cincinnati last month, eliminated Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas 7-5, 6-0, 6-2.

Next in Fish’s path is France’s Arnaud Clement, who led 6-3, 5-5 when Argentina’s Eduardo Schwank retired with an ankle injury.

Fish said he feels like he can crack the world top-10 next year and is confident he could win a possible fourth-round match against Djokovic.

“I’ve never put myself in position to be a guy who is talked about at a Grand Slam,” Fish said.

ARE THEY INNOCENT ??……

ARE THEY INNOCENT ??……

Test captain Salman Butt and bowlers Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Asif vowed to clear their names in a meeting in London with Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ijaz Butt and Wajid Shamsul Hasan, Pakistan’s ambassador to Britain.

Speaking after meeting the players at his London office, Hasan said in a statement the players had insisted they were innocent of wrongdoing but were pulling out of the tour because of the “mental torture” of the scandal.

“The three players have said that they are extremely disturbed by what has happened in the past week, especially in regard of their alleged involvement in the crime,” Hasan told reporters.

“They mentioned that they are entirely innocent in the whole episode and shall defend their innocence as such.

“They maintain that on account of the mental torture which has deeply affected them, they are not in the right frame of mind to play the remaining matches,” Hasan said. “Therefore, they have requested that the Pakistan Cricket Board not consider them for the remaining matches.”

Asked later if he believed the trio was innocent, Hasan replied: “Yes, I believe in their innocence.”

He also denied suggestions the players were “running away” from the crisis by withdrawing from the tour.

“They are innocent. They are defending their innocence. They are not running away,” he said.

Butt, Aamer and Asif were all named in a News of the World report which alleged they were involved in a “spot-fixing” scam by bowling deliberate no-balls in last week’s Test match with England in exchange for cash.

The revelations have shocked the cricket world and led to calls from figures within the game that the players involved should be banned for life.

Pakistan officials had earlier confirmed the trio would play no further part in the tour –two upcoming Twenty20 games and five one-day internationals against England.

Manager Yawar Saaed added he could not comment about the players’ state of mind, saying: “I cannot answer anything on their behalf because investigations are being made by Scotland Yard and the ICC (International Cricket Council) and others. The game must go on, cricket will be played at its best.”

Butt, Asif and Aamer were quizzed by police during the Lord’s Test and had their mobile phones confiscated as detectives tried to unravel claims the Pakistanis bowled no-balls to order as part of a betting scam.

London-based businessman Mazhar Majeed was arrested but released without charge on police bail following questioning.

Meanwhile Australian Test legend Shane Warne added his voice to the chorus of condemnation, saying authorities should choose the ultimate punishment if the three players were found guilty.

“If it is true and they have been found (guilty of) match-fixing and throwing games and spot-betting with the no-balls and stuff, if that’s the case they should be thrown out,” Warne told reporters.

“It’s as simple as that. I don’t think there should be any other way to do it. If it’s fixed by players, they should be banned for life. Anyone who’s involved should be thrown out.”

Former England cricket coach Duncan Fletcher also adopted a hard line, writing in The Guardian newspaper that life bans were the only way to send a clear message to players who compromised the integrity of the sport.

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