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Mohammad Asif denies role in Pakistan corruption row

10 January 11 19:20 GMT

By David Bond
BBC sports editor, in Doha

One of the three Pakistan players accused of spot-fixing has conceded the evidence against the players is convincing but has insisted he was not part of any plot to bowl deliberate no balls.

Mohammad Asif is understood to have told the International Cricket Council's anti-corruption tribunal in Doha on Monday that the evidence heard over the last five days suggests that there was corruption during the fourth Test against England at Lord's last August.

But in a move which suggests a major split between him and Salman Butt and Mohammad Amir - the other two players charged by the ICC - Asif maintains he only bowled a no ball because Test captain Butt told him to bowl a faster delivery.

All three players have denied the charges of corruption.

Asif was the last of the three players to face cross-examination from the ICC's lawyer Jonathan Taylor and the panel on Monday.

Closing arguments began in the afternoon and will conclude on Tuesday morning.

The three-man tribunal, headed by Michael Beloff QC, could deliver its findings on Tuesday, although it is possible any decision could drag into Wednesday morning.

But Mr Beloff is extremely unlikely to announce punishments against the players because the players' lawyers want to see a reasoned judgment from the tribunal and there is thought to be insufficient time to produce one.

The players' lawyers are expected to try to mitigate any bans - which could range from five years to life in relation to the most serious charges - once the full judgment is available.

It also emerged on Monday that the ICC attempted to prove wrongdoing relating to the third Test at the Oval during the inquiry in Doha.

The News of the World - which has provided the bulk of the evidence being used by the ICC - published recordings and transcripts of conversations involving their undercover reporter and the players' agent Mazhar Majeed in which he claimed he could influence events during the match at the Oval.

But in the end - unlike at Lord's - Majeed's predictions did not come true. The ICC is understood to have argued the claims were evidence of a wider corruption link between the players and the alleged fixer.

Asif's evidence is a clear sign he believes his best chance of escaping a ban is by suggesting his two team-mates were more complicit in any scam than he was.

Both Butt and Amir have maintained they have no idea how Majeed was able to predict with such accuracy the no balls in the game at Lord's.

And it is a sign that, with the ICC's verdict now in sight, splits between the players are beginning to emerge.

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