On my return to Dubai after reporting the Champions Trophy final, many fans asked me whether the final was fixed.
Some wondered whether India’s top players had accepted money from bookies to perform poorly!
Questions like these are usually born out of disappointment when their heroes fail to deliver.
A few just couldn’t suppress their frustration because India lost to Pakistan, a team that India had dominated in International Cricket Council tournaments.
On Sunday, Ramdas Athawale, India’s Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment, went on to comment that the final was fixed, and also picked out Virat Kohli and Yuvraj Singh for having deliberately underperformed’.
It was a statement made out of sheer ignorance of the game as well as some cheap publicity.
It is unbelievable how people occupying responsible positions make such irresponsible statements.
Incidents of match fixing as well as spot fixing have happened in the past; but that doesn’t mean whenever a formidable team loses, it is considered as a fixed match.
For India and Pakistan cricketers, to return home after losing to each other, especially in a final, can haunt them for years.
But making blatant statements like what the Indian minister did without any proof against the players should be condemned, and the Ministry of Youth and Sports should take action against Athawale.
Hosts England were the favourites to win the Champions Trophy but nobody accused them of underperforming to lose the semi-final to Pakistan.
It’s time people enjoyed cricket without the sole objective of their team winning the contest.
It is clear that those who now accuse the Indian players of underperforming did not observe the beauty of Pakistan pacer Mohammad Amir’s swing bowling. It was his splendid spell that destroyed India.
India lost to an inexperienced West Indies team in Antigua on Sunday. This has once again proved that however weak a squad may seem on paper, if their players play as a unit, any opponent can be defeated.
That is what Pakistan did to India in the Champions Trophy.
Additionally, as long as the Indian cricket board continues to act in an unprofessional manner by venturing to play a series without a coach, such defeats will not be a surprise. It was wrong to expect a captain to play all roles, including that of a coach, assuming that the West Indies is a weak team. A team made up of superstars does not ensure a victory always. It is this lack of team work and coordination that tempts people to accuse players of throwing matches.
The recent Champions Trophy proved that any team can be defeated; but to think that all upset victories are fake is a sheer lack of willingness to just enjoy cricket.