March 22, 2012

Cricket suffers yet another major jolt in Asia Cup 2012

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By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Cricket was once again disgraced out in the open during the Asia Cup 2012 when hosts Bangladesh marched into final after recording a comfortable victory over Sri Lanka in the last league fixture on March 20. The outcome was as much predictable as the body language and the efforts on the field of the two teams.

The equation was quite uncomplicated and straightforward. It was not rocket science. Bangladesh had to win and Sri Lanka had to lose in order to prevent defending champions India from reaching the final. A Bangladesh-Pakistan final was predicted before the start of the game and every thing went according to the plan. The Nature also didn’t come in the way.

Although India, who had emerged triumphant in the last edition of the Asia Cup before going on to win the World Cup less than a year ago, wouldn’t have mind exiting from the tournament because they accomplished everything else other than retaining the title.

India should be returning home satisfied having overpowered both their bitter rivals, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, besides having watched their record-breaking batsman Sachin Tendulkur fulfill his ambition of scoring 100th international ton.

The Indian cricket authorities won’t feel embarassed for the above reacons but the cricket fans over there must have felt disheartened if not cheated by the shady deals that appeared to have taken place that marred the Bangladesh-India game.

In the prevailing circumstances every match in the Asia Cup is suspected of being fixed but there are two matches in particular where the emotions of a large number of people seemed to have been played with. It became apparent on so many occasions during the Bangladesh-Sri Lanka encounter that an engieered result was on the cards.

Bangladesh have rewritten their cricket history by advancing to the final of the Asia Cup for the first time. That they have done it in dubious manner, apparently with the support of the outside forces, certainly takes gloss out of their most awesome accomplishment yet.

They may even win the Asia Cup for the first time, since the event was launched in 1984. They would enter the final against Pakistan as underdogs despite their unexpected triumphs over India and Sri Lanka, the finalists of the last World Cup.

The kind of cricket that’s being played in the tournament and knowing the unpredictability and vulnerability of the Pakistanis in crunch games it should come as no real surprise if Bangladesh lift the trophy on March 22.

Interestingly betting and match-fixing were in the stage of infancy when the inaugural Asia Cup was staged in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) more than quarter of a century ago. Sharjah had just been inducted as a venue for One-day Internationals.

28 years down the road the mechanics of cricket have changed. In the past only just an odd game or two in years were feared to have been manipulated. It has become the other way round now. There are very few games that seem to remain unaffected of the outside forces. Let’s see how long cricket can endure this pain.

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