Team India’s six-wicket win against South Africa at Rose Bowl Cricket Ground in Southampton has led to some conspiracy theory in a small section of the cricketing world. Questions have been raised on the match, with some alleging that India manipulated the wicket and hence won the match comfortably. There have also been rumours that India has been using its influence to get wickets across England that would favour the team during ICC World Cup 2019. However, former Pakistani pacer Shoaib Akhtar has quashed all such rumours, claiming that Virat Kohli’s men won the match against South Africa only because they played good cricket on all fronts.
Releasing a video in this regard, the legendary cricketer said that the logics being given by those involved in rumour mongering is that almost 80 per cent of the funding of the International Cricket Council (ICC), including television rights, come from India and hence the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has a clout to influence the authorities to manipulate wickets.
Countering such claims, Akhtar claims that he might have considered them had India been hosting the World Cup. According to the former pacer, groundsmen in England do not listen to even the English team. “No matter what the English team keep telling them, they make the grounds as per their wish. There are a few guidelines that they follow, but apart from it, they do not listen to any person or body,” says Akhtar.
He further pointed that India did not even win the toss and that it was South Africa’s choice to bat first. Akhtar said that South Africa would have scored somewhere between 275-280 runs had it played good cricket.
Talking about South Africa, the Pakistani cricketer said, “I feel sorry for them (South Africa). I don’t know why they are not playing well. I know they are dispersed – they have fitness issues, there is a leadership crisis – but they still could have played consistently for 50 overs.”
“India won because of its capabilities. You will have to agree that India was a better team than South Africa,” he added.
According to Akhtar, Indian bowlers like Jasprit Bumrah and Yuzvendra Chahal performed well and ensured India’s victory in the match.
Talking about Indian batsman KL Rahul, Akhtar said that he was being subjected to undue pressure and forced to justify his slot. The ex-pacer asserted that Rahul must be allowed to play without pressure, so that he can just enjoy his game instead of making attempts to justify his position.
Opting to bat first in the match, South Africa lost wickets at regular intervals before being restricted to a lowly total of 227 for nine in their stipulated 50 overs. In reply, Rohit Sharma (unbeaten at 122) pulled back his second World Cup century and 23rd overall besides also sharing crucial partnerships of 85 and 74 runs with KL Rahul (26) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (34), respectively to help India cross the mark with 15 balls remaining.