A suspected Mumbai gangster with links to illegal bookmakers allegedly approached Australian cricketers during the tour of England last year.
It has been revealed that the gangster approached Shane Watson and Brad Haddin at the team's Royal Kensington Garden hotel after the Lord's Test and during the Twenty20 tournament that Pakistan won.
Both players are said to have immediately reported the approaches to authorities. Neither is suspected of any wrongdoing.
Meanwhile, the former girlfriend of Mohammed Asif, one of the two Pakistani pace bowlers (along with Mohammed Amir) who is accused of working with Mazhar Majeed, the alleged "spot betting" match-fixer trapped by London's News of the World Sunday newspaper in a sting operation, has spilled the beans about a trip Asif made to Bangkok before the Australian tour.
It has now been confirmed that the Pakistanis contrived a defeat in the Sydney Test after Australia were 200 runs in deficit in the first innings.
Pakistani actress Veena Malik is quoted here by Indian newspaper DNA as saying: "Since his comeback (from a drugs ban), he is totally involved in this. Once he told me that the entire Pakistan team is involved. From head to toe, the Pakistani players and officials are involved."
Malik, who is accused of working with Majeed, said: "One day he got business class tickets and went to Bangkok. He told me that he was offered $US40, 000. I advised him not to be part of such activities but he did not listen. He went ahead and demanded $200,000 from them. He borrowed $US 3 million from me to pay certain people to have his ban reduced to one year (from two)."
According to a Sydney newspaper, the Mumbai gangster also sought to procure information from other international cricketers and at least one member of the media during last year's Twenty20 tournament in England. The ICC's anti-corruption and security unit has begun an investigation into his dealings.
The brazen approaches are seen to demonstrate the extent to which illegal bookmakers have been emboldened by the rapid expansion of Twenty20 cricket, including the IPL.
Australian captain Ricky Ponting said yesterday he is "blown away" by the extent of the betting allegations levelled at the Pakistanis even as Australian players and administrators were at pains to maintain the Pakistani's alleged "tanking" of the Sydney Test last year in no way devalued their team's deserved and hard-fought win.
With Pakistan reeling under the ongoing flood crisis and fans in that country livid at the revelations, former Test captain Imran Khan has said that the guilty players should be punished but the team spared.
"The people who are guilty should be removed from the team and replaced and should be punished as an example for future generations to realise that crime does not pay.
"It's a very depressing day for Pakistan cricket," he said, "but I still want to wait until the whole story unfolds... until we know whether the allegations are correct."