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    Pakistan match set to be overshadowed


    by ODN


    Pakistan are under orders to try to win over a crowd of 5,000 in Taunton on Thursday - but the most important action will be taking place 170 miles away, behind closed doors.

    Test captain Salman Butt and seam bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer set off on Wednesday morning for London to face a Pakistan Cricket Board inquiry into the 'spot-fixing' allegations which have put the remainder of their tour, and maybe even their cricketing futures, in doubt.

    With the three men in the eye of the storm therefore conveniently otherwise engaged, the rest of the Pakistan squad can continue preparations for the two NatWest Twenty20s and five one-day internationals they will play against England over the next three weeks.

    Into the crisis - which has so far seen four arrests from outside the squad and Butt, Asif and Aamer's mobile phones confiscated by police after interviews at the team hotel during the Lord's Test - steps Pakistan's limited-overs captain Shahid Afridi.

    The message from Afridi, as he and his team-mates practised at the County Ground to face a strong Somerset side, was to "entertain" and try to "forget" about ongoing events elsewhere.

    "What has happened has gone," Afridi said. "We are here to play good cricket. It's a big challenge for me personally - playing in English conditions is always difficult. We are all looking forward to it."

    He added: "It has been really difficult. But we can forget everything, get out, play the cricket and entertain the people."