New Delhi: The ball tampering row is getting uglier by the day. On the fourth day of the Oval Test against England, umpire Darrell Hair penalised Pakistan five runs and changed the ball implying that Pakistan had tampered with the ball.
Inzamam led his team to the dressing room during the tea break and did not take to the field after the break. After waiting for some time umpires awarded the Test to England, which went on to win the series 3-0.
It was the first time in nearly 129 years of cricket history that a team forfeited a Test match.
The Pakistani skipper has now been accused by the International Cricket Council (ICC) of bringing the game into disrepute and charges of ball tampering. Inzamam faces the prospect of being banned for eight ODIs or four Tests.
The ICC also rejected Pakistan's demand that Hair should not officiate in their future matches.
With the controversy showing no sign of abetting and also taking a racial overtone Pakistan's Sports Minister Mian Shimam Haider has warned that the row could split cricket's world governing body.
According to Haider there is a 'real possibility' that the Asian bloc comprising four Test-playing nations would form a faction within the ICC over the row.
Hair has also been accused of having a racial bias against Asian teams.
"He's been controversial. He had done the same thing with the Indians, he had done the same thing with the Sri Lankans, Bangladesh," Haider told the BBC.
"There could be groups and the ICC would be divided into two groups."
Haider has called upon the ICC to withdraw the claim that Pakistan cheated in the fourth Test against England or give evidence to prove it.
"We feel they should withdraw these allegations or if they have the cameras, they have the proof, they can prove it. If they prove it, fine, we don't mind."
Even Australian Prime Minister John Howard has supported Hair's decision and said cricket would descend into "chaos" if officials were not supported when enforcing the rules.
"There are rules and, provided the rules are followed and properly applied, then the umpires should be supported," Howard said.
"Once you start cutting and running from supporting umpires, you have chaos."
Howard had also supported Hair when he no-balled Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan for a faulty action, a decision that was also viewd as having a racial angle to it by the Asian bloc.
Inzamam's decion to walk off the field has been supported by President Pervez Musharraff.
"I think the President did the right thing. He had to support his team," Haider said.
Meanwhile, ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed is expected to land in London and help find out a solution to the ugly row.
"We have an indication from our lawyers that they have information Malcolm Speed is likely to be coming," Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Shaharyar Khan said.
Pakistan had threatened to boycott the five-match ODI series against England if their skipper was penalised by ICC's Disciplinary Committee.
The disciplinary hearing, which was to be held on Friday in London, was postponed till Wednesday because of the unavailability of ICC chief match referee Ranjan Madugalle.
In a statement Speed said the fact that the One-Dayers were taking place from August 30 to September 10 meant it would be "extremely difficult" for a hearing to take place during that period.