Mohammad Asif's no-ball claim shrouded in doubt

The judge in the trial of the Pakistan cricketers Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif reminded the jury during his summing-up yesterday that Asif had not informed police during his first interview of his claim in court that he had bowled a no-ball as a result of pressure from Butt, his captain.

Butt and Asif are charged with conspiring with Mohammad Amir, their Pakistan team-mate, and agent Mazhar Majeed, to bowl pre-arranged no-balls in the fourth Test with England last year. Both deny the charges.

Asif, pointed out Mr Justice Cooke, initially told police when he was interviewed in September last year that his no-ball, the last ball of the 10th over in England's first innings, was accidental and "no one had pressurised him to do so". In his defence during the trial, Asif has said he bowled a no-ball because Butt was urging him to run up to the wicket quicker. He said Butt told him to "run faster, fucker".

Mr Justice Cooke, who is expected to send the jury out today to consider a verdict, said: "Could Asif reasonably have been expected to tell officers of this account?" The case continues.

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