The scandal-prone Pakistan cricket team on Saturday sent shockwaves through world cricket after it was disclosed that the scoring patterns in its innings during Friday's ODI match against England were fixed, prompting the ICC to launch an immediate probe.
The ICC action followed disclosures by British tabloid The Sun that an individual in the Pakistani team camp is believed to be the ringleader who was taking money from bookies in India and Dubai and ensuring their orders were carried out.
"The Sun is withholding details of the alleged fix while the investigation continues -- but we can reveal that horrified ICC chiefs launched their investigation before the Pakistan innings had even finished.
"The probe centres on an individual within the team camp who is believed to be the ringleader, taking money from bookies and ensuring their orders are carried out," the paper said.
The paper reported that bookies knew details of Pakistan's innings before the match even began and it had given the evidence to the game's governing body ahead of the game.
Immediately after the news came out, the ICC said in a statement that the investigation is warranted as information about a certain scoring pattern appeared to be "correct".
"The ICC has launched an investigation into activities that took place during the third One-Day International between England and Pakistan at The Oval, London, on September 17," the governing body said.
"Following information received by the ICC from a British newspaper and its source, the ICC now believes a full investigation is warranted," it added.
Pakistan won the match by 23 runs to keep their hopes alive in the five-match series after losing the first two games.
According to the newspaper, the scoring patterns of the game matched with the "target that bookies had been told in advance by a fixer."
"Illegal bookies in India and Dubai apparently knew in advance what would happen so they could launch a betting coup. But The Sun's undercover team was able to pass details to ICC inspectors before the match began," the report said.
ICC CEO Haroon Lorgat thanked the tabloid for providing the information and said the evidence on table demands an inquiry.
"A source informed The Sun newspaper that a certain scoring pattern would emerge during certain stages of the match and, broadly speaking, that information appeared to be correct," Lorgat said.
"We therefore feel it is incumbent upon us to launch a full inquiry into this particular game although it is worth pointing out at this stage that we are not stating as fact that anything untoward has occurred. Only in the fullness of the investigation can that be established.
"We thank The Sun newspaper for its information and cooperation in this regard and we will work with its staff and sources to ensure the full truth surrounding this match is ascertained," he added.
Lorgat reiterated that the ICC maintains a zero tolerance policy towards corruption in the game.
"Any player or official found guilty of an offence will face the full rigour of our robust Anti-Corruption Code so that we can ensure the integrity of the sport is maintained," he said.
"There will be no further comment from the ICC at this stage."
The Pakistan Cricket Board, which has been in denial right from the beginning of the match fixing scandal that broke out three weeks ago, continued to be in the same mode.
"These are meaningless allegations without any proof. I haven't read the report so I can't comment any further," PCB chairman Ejaz Butt said.
"The ICC has not got in touch with us on any such accusation. That is total imagination. There is no truth in it," he added.
The latest report comes close on the heels of the spot-fixing scandal that led to the suspension of Pakistan Test captain Salman Butt and the pace duo of Muhammad Amir and Mohammad Asif.
The tabloid had claimed it "received details of calls between a notorious Dubai-based match fixer and a Delhi bookie."
"We alerted ICC corruption busters led by ex-police chief Sir Ronnie Flanagan. After a frantic round of calls the ICC decided to issue a general warning to Pakistan's players, but by then the game had started," it said.
It said the ICC is also "investigating whether the same cartel rigged a Test between Pakistan and Australia in July after allegedly paying players 700,000 pounds."