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Secret agents for India-Pakistan series

ISLAMABAD, FEB. 12. Concerned over match-fixers targeting the India-Pakistan series, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has decided to deploy as many as three anti-corruption officials besides secret agents to check the menace.

``The ICC has informed that in addition to the retired Pakistani Army Colonel Qaza Noor, a security official each from India and Australia would keep a close watch during the series,'' Pakistan Cricket Board spokesman Sami-ul Hasan told PTI over phone from Karachi on Thursday.

Col. Noor represents ICC's Anti-Corruption Unit in Pakistan and Bangladesh while N.S. Virk is India's representative.

Deployment of three officials for one series indicates ICC's renewed fears that match-fixing might still be affecting the game. The ACU had written to the PCB in recent months that some Pakistan players might have under performed in a couple of one-day tournaments in 2002.

Meanwhile, news daily The Nation quoted PCB sources as saying although the ICC and boards of both countries had taken adequate steps to check illegal betting, a complete ban was not practical.

The report said bookmakers had extended their network from Asia to Europe, Africa and USA. ``The much-awaited series will be the prime event for bookies to earn millions of dollars as they have formatted a strong international network ahead of Indo-Pak series,'' the sources said.

The two neighbours are resuming bilateral cricket ties after a 14-year hiatus and cricket fans across the world are eagerly awaiting the series.

``Despite a number of steps taken by ICC no one can remove match-fixing totally and still many bookies are involved in the million-dollar game,'' the sources were quoted as saying. They said a few former Dubai-based Indian, Pakistani and African cricketers were working as the international link for the network.

— PTI

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