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Page last updated at 11:23 GMT, Wednesday, 22 September 2010 12:23 UK

Pakistan fans remain undaunted

Protests in Pakistan
There have been protests in Pakistan about the treatment of the cricketers

By Adam Mynott
BBC World Affairs correspondent in Islamabad

It has not been a great year for Pakistani cricket fans. The country has won just two of eight Test matches and only three of 12 one-day internationals played so far in 2010.

On top of that, of course, most supporters can only watch their national side in action on television because other countries refuse to travel to Pakistan because it is considered so dangerous.

Pakistan's 'home' series against Australia this summer was played in England and other games have taken place in the United Arab Emirates.

It takes more than a few losses and claims of match fixing to divert Pakistanis from their sporting passion

There is also the renewed taint of corruption, with three Pakistan players - Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif - suspended over spot-fixing claims and others under the spotlight.

But it takes more than a few losses and claims of match fixing to divert Pakistanis from their sporting passion.

Excitement has been further stirred by the fact Pakistan can win Wednesday's fifth one-day international against England at the Rose Bowl and with it the series.

Imtiaz Rabbani is an insurance salesman in the Pakistan capital Islamabad. He is fed up with all the corruption claims.

"There's no proof against any of our players," he told me. "It's a conspiracy whipped up by the cricket authorities and it's not fair."

He agreed that corruption could damage the game of cricket but pointed out that there is nothing new in claims of match fixing.

"It's time the authorities sorted out the mess but they can't go on blaming Pakistan," he said. "What about the accusations against England cricketers? Why have none of them been suspended?"

Rabbani said Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ijaz Butt would not have pointed the finger at England without credible suspicions.

Pakistan celebrate
Pakistan celebrate during Monday's win over England

Meanwhile, Pakistan's sports minister Ijaz Jakhrani told parliament in Islamabad on Tuesday that "if any player was found guilty (of corruption) then we will take firm action".

And Pakistan newspapers have written in vivid terms of "a scandal-hit tour" and "a tainted series".

Nevertheless, a lot of the anger in Pakistan has been directed at the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the way it has handled the allegations of corruption.

Former Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Tauqir Zia said the ICC had taken hasty, ill-considered decisions and "was trying to cover up its own incompetence by blaming Pakistan and turning it into a scapegoat".

On Wednesday, millions of Pakistanis will gather round radio sets and sit in front of televisions to watch the fifth and deciding match in the one-day series against England.

And one thing is sure. If Pakistan win, the corruption that has overshadowed the game for the past few weeks will be forgotten in a frenzy of excitement and celebration.

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see also
Morgan seals England series win
22 Sep 10 |  England
England demand apology from Butt
21 Sep 10 |  England
Strauss outraged by fixing claims
20 Sep 10 |  England
Pakistan level tainted ODI series
20 Sep 10 |  England
Prosecutors handed 'fixing' file
17 Sep 10 |  Pakistan
Pakistan trio to contest charges
14 Sep 10 |  Cricket
Accused trio return to Pakistan
11 Sep 10 |  Pakistan
Pakistan in England 2010
07 Sep 10 |  Cricket

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