New Delhi:Pakistani captain Salman Butt and pacers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer have been summoned to London by the Scotland Yard in connection with the spot-fixing controversy that erupted during the current England vs Pakistan series.
They are also expected to meet top Pakistan officials. The three players were in Taunton with the rest of the team ahead of a friendly match against Somerset.
Pakistan team manager Yawar Saeed said that the three players did not have nets with the rest of the team because they were preparing for a meeting at the Pakistan High Commission in London on Wednesday.
"The three are not practicing today and they have to go to London to attend the meeting at the High Commission in connection with the ongoing investigations into spot-fixing," Yawar said.
Yawar said that the three players had been called to the High Commission where the High Commissioner has invited a leading British legal expert to be present along with PCB Chairman Ijaz Butt.
"In all probability, the PCB chief and the High Commissioner will talk to the players in front of the legal expert and take a decision on future course of action in the investigations," one team source said.
Along with wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal, these three players were questioned over the weekend (on Saturday) as well at their London hotel.
According to sources, the decision to delink the three players from the team was taken by the team management after a marathon meeting which took stock of the developments arising out of the sting operation of the British tabloid 'News of the World'.
Pakistan's coach Waqar Younis, batting coach Ijaz Ahmed, assistant manager Safaqat Rana and manager Yawar Saeed were still in a close-door meeting.
"The idea apparently is that the players accused of fixing should be kept away from media glare and have been told to remain indoors in the hotel to avoid more controversies," the source added.
The sources said that there was considerable pressure from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to take action on the tainted players to restore the credibility of the upcoming T20 and ODI series.
It is not known when the Scotland Yard sleuths will interrogate the players.
The formal call for interrogation comes hours after the Chairman of the Pakistani Cricket Board, Ijaz Butt, said no Pakistani player would be dropped for the rest of the England series till formal investigations are completed.
"There is a case going on with the Scotland Yard. This is only an allegation. There is still no charge or proof on that account. So at this stage there will be no action taken," said Butt.
The substantial charges of corruption against members of the Pakistani cricket team have become a national embarrassment and crisis. Several simultaneous investigations are in progress.
The UK police is involved; Pakistan has also sent a three-member Federal Investigating Agency team to England; and the International Cricket Council is also conducting an inquiry through its Anti-Corruption Unit.
Over the weekend, UK tabloid News of the World showed video footage of a middleman, Mazhar Majeed, accepting thousands of pounds from an undercover reporter. In return, he promises to have three no-balls bowled at certain times at the Lord's Test match. The no-balls did play out exactly as promised by majeed, who was arrested on Saturday and then released on bail on Sunday. What Majeed was offering was "spot-fixing" - where players are paid for details of play.
Majeed described Butt as "the ring-leader" of the players involved with betting syndicates. He also bragged that a Test match played by Pakistan against Australia in Sydney at the beginning of this year had been thrown by Pakistani cricketers. Referring to this expose, the Pakistani Cricket Board said it didn't want to go by newspaper reports.
Sources in the team are also saying that Test captain Butt was responsible for the clout that bookie and player agent Mazhar Majeed enjoyed in the team. Asif had also reportedly told the investigators that it was Butt who had introduced Majeed to the players.
The ICC's report by its Anti-Corruption Unit is expected to be finalised within the next three days.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) and the England Cricket Board are keen for the two T20 matches, and five one-day matches to take place as scheduled. The England Cricket Board could lose 10-12 million pounds if the series is cancelled. Senior players for England have reportedly expressed their reluctance to continue with the series unless Butt, Asif and Aamer are dropped.
A crucial point of the controversy could develop around 50,000 pounds (about 37 lakhs) allegedly found in Butt's room by Scotland Yard. Butt claimed that the money was to pay for a trousseau for his sister. However, the cash was found in different currencies, including UAE dirhams.
ICC Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat said the world body was expecting that the investigation would be over by the weekend.
"We're busy with the Metropolitan Police and hopefully before the weekend arrives we can get to some sort of a conclusion, but this is a live issue which moves with the hour, every hour and it's an individual's right that you're innocent until proven guilty," he said.
"At the moment, it is also appropriate that the game continues. We shouldn't let everyone suffer because of a couple of individuals that might have got caught up in corrupt practices. The vast majority of players are not guilty of any such behaviour. They play the sport in the right spirit, and there are many fans who want to watch the game," he said.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik said the government would ascertain whether allegations of 'spot-fixing' against its cricketers were part of a conspiracy but would hand exemplary punishment if they are found guilty.
"This incident should not have happened. We want to ascertain if there is any conspiracy against the team or to defame Pakistan. There have been conspiracies against Pakistan in the past - we will consider that angle also. We want to get the facts and get them exonerated," he said.
"If any player is found involved, we will make an example out of him," Malik said.
(With PTI inputs)