February 20, 2011

India’s 16 runs off last three overs raise doubts of spot-fixing in World Cup opener


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Cricket is indeed a funny game but it becomes funnier when external elements appear to be touching base in one form of the other. There are speculations once more about spot-fixing having taken place in the opening match of the 10th Cricket World Cup 2011 between co-hosts Bangladesh and India at Shere Bangla National Stadium, Mirpur, on February 19.

India had mauled the Bangladesh bowling to rattle up 354 runs for the loss of only two wickets in 47 overs. With Virender Sehwag and Virat Kohli in complete command and the likes of Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Yusuf Pathan padded up there was always a possibility of the eventual total going somewhere around 400.

With such a solid platform and the bowlers having lost the radar following the hammering they received, India looked set to go past 400 because the advent of T20 cricket has helped every team in going berserk in the death overs. Any team having eight wickets in hand would be expected to get a minimum of 30 to 40 in last three overs these days.

How India remained contended with just 16 runs off the last three overs of their innings after being in total control against a demoralized bowling attack surprised many fans and there was indeed suspicion of foul play in the air.

It’s beyond comprehension to get these little runs at a stage when the fielding side is more than willing to concede a single every ball. The boundaries are the order of the day in the closing stages of the innings.

You don’t need to be an expert to assess these kinds of situation when the batsmen are only supposed to go for the kill rather than push for singles or twos. As a matter of fact it needs extra effort to under-perform or do something terribly unusual. That’s where the wrongdoing becomes little obvious.

As the cricket administrators have been saying all along it’s next to impossible to eliminate the menace of spot fixing. They are dead right. The match-fixing element could be controlled but it seems beyond any authority to come to terms with spot-fixing.

The protagonists of spot-fixing might have chalked up their own strategic plans to hit an event as huge as the Cricket World Cup.

The Anti-Corruption Unit of the International Cricket Council would do the policing but they are unlikely to prevent spot-fixing and there’s an indication already on the very first day of the tournament.

I don’t think that they have any mechanism in place to curb such incidents. Neither do they seem to be having the desire or the will power to contain the immoral acts for reasons known to everyone following the game keenly.

This could be the most open World Cup as well as the most controversial one if we continue witnessing the unusual segments of this high magnitude. Doubts will be raised and the game will not remain free from malpractices if corrective measures are not taken.

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