July 5, 2008 11:15:43 pm
Pakistan’s ouster from the Asia Cup has brought conspiracy theorists back to the fore. Former cricketers Rameez Raja and Sikander Bakht have claimed that Sri Lanka may have deliberately lost their match against India on Thursday to avoid facing Pakistan in the final.
While Raja is on record saying, “Sri Lanka may have lost the match because they didn’t want to play Pakistan in the final,” Bakht goes a step further, ‘explaining’ the reasons for it.
“In 1999, Pakistan had once lost to Sri Lanka in a tournament because they didn’t want India to make it to the final. So, it is evident that teams adopt certain strategies. Here, it is evident that Sri Lanka may have deliberately lost the match because they don’t want to meet a team as unpredictable as Pakistan. This, in fact, should make Pakistan proud that they’re looked upon as dangerous opponents,” said Bakht.
The comments are strange, given that India’s performance in the tournament has been far superior to that of Pakistan. India’s run-rate as well as the number of runs scored is far higher than Pakistan’s. India’s opening combination has been more successful, and they have three batsmen among the top-five run-getters in the Asia Cup, compared to just one Pakistan batsman — Younis Khan.
After losing to India on Thursday, Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene had cited India’s opening partnership and MS Dhoni’s strokeplay in the middle as reasons for the defeat. Bakht and Raja, nevertheless, believe it is not India’s cricketing abilities but Sri Lanka’s fear of playing Pakistan in the final that won them the match.
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