Sports News

No-ball drama set to cost Asif film role

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Mohammad Asif may be dropped from an Indian film in which he was supposed to play a cricket coach after it emerged he was one of the three Pakistani players embroiled in a spot-fixing scandal.

Pakistan's Mohammad Asif fields the ball during the fourth cricket test match against England at Lord's cricket ground in London August 28, 2010. REUTERS/Philip Brown

The 27-year-old pace bowler was due to star in a Malayalam-language film about a Pakistani cricketer who travels to Kerala to teach students.

However, director Kaithapram Damodaran Namboothiri is having second thoughts in the wake of a scandal that erupted after a British newspaper alleged Asif and Mohammad Amir bowled no-balls by arrangement in last week’s fourth test against England.

Captain Salman Butt was the third player named in the report.

“If he (Asif) is guilty, I cannot take him in the film as it will impact public sentiment and the success of the film,” Namboothiri told Reuters by telephone on Wednesday.

“I cannot blame Asif unless he is proven guilty, but I cannot wait much longer.”

Spot-fixing has emerged as the latest threat to the integrity of cricket after the match-fixing scandal which rocked the game 10 years ago.

The deliberate no-ball incident led to the arrest of 35-year-old agent Mazhar Majeed on Saturday on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud bookmakers even though he was released on police bail on Monday.

British customs officials have since arrested three people as part of an investigation into money laundering.

The investigations followed a British newspaper report that Pakistan players, including Asif, had been bribed to fix incidents in the match against England.

Namboothiri, a lyricist and composer who is making his directorial debut, said he was in talks with another Pakistani cricketer for the role with shooting due to begin next month.

“The theme demands that the protagonist of the film be Pakistani,” he said.

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