Former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram may deny it vehemently. And the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) may continue to maintain a stoic silence. But the investigating arm of the ICC, the Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACU), is actively pursuing its investigations into the June 8, 1999, World Cup match at Old Trafford, Manchester, between India and Pakistan. And they think the match was "fixed".
Martin Hawkins, the ACU's senior investigator, told Outlook as much from London. "There is compelling circumstantial evidence. I cannot discuss the lines of enquiry as it is very important for the ACU to maintain some discretion," he said. However, other ACU sources say the investigations were being carried out to ensure the "game is not tainted henceforth" and that Akram does not exercise any influence in any official cricketing body.
The ICC has also decided to deploy three anti-corruption officials besides several observers in the forthcoming India-Pakistan series, concerned as it is that match-fixers may become "active" again. "The stakes are very high in India-Pakistan matches. So we have to take the utmost care. We are not making any allegations against anyone but given the past record we are suspicious," says an ICC official.
The case against Akram is built around a three-page statement of a Delhi businessman to the ACU. His testimony (published in Outlook's Feb 16 issue) reveals he was witness to punter Ratan Mehta "arranging the underperformance" of Pakistani players, including Akram, in the Manchester match. This happened in a London bar. The businessman had also testified that Mehta said he had "sorted out" 10 members of the Pakistani team. This crucial deposition forms part of ACU chief Lord Condon's confidential correspondence to the PCB. The thrust of the circumstantial evidence was that Mehta was responsible for fixing this...