Meanwhile, India-Pakistan fans are getting abusive online and even using racist epithets
Pakistan’s players are some of the most prolific fixers in the game. Several of its stars have been banned in the past. Commentator Ejaz Wasim, who works for the Bol Network in Pakistan, told the South China Morning Post’s Nazvi Careem in 2018: “Little is being done to protect Pakistani players from match-fixers – more than eight years after the spot-fixing scandal that resulted in jail time for Mohammad Amir, Salman Butt and Mohammed Asif.” Amir is playing in this cup and has been Pakistan’s star bowler along with Shaheen Afridi.
Personal and national interest fixing
Betting is big in India, but India’s top players make so much money from playing and endorsements that most are relatively free of the stigma of fixing. But that does not mean teams including the national rival, will not lose a game or two if it brings embarrassment for Pakistan. Cricket wins are great but making Pakistan suffer is better. For Modi, who has just won an election on an anti-Pakistan ticket, this may even make good political sense.
Ex-Pakistan cricketer Basit Ali has speculated that India will lose against Bangladesh and Waqar Younis has lambasted Dhoni’s batting as “poor sportsmanship” against England to ensure that Pakistan does not make it to the semis. Hmmm...
Afghan skipper Gulbadin’s bowling won that Pakistan a match they were on the verge of losing has been called “fixed” and Dhoni’s slow batting has been ... ahem—criticized as deliberate. But who knows what happened? But while Gulbadin cost his team a loss, Dhoni’s batting ensured a loss which India can afford. So even if the allegations are true, one was for personal gain and the other for national gain. Obviously, cricket is both politics and economics.
The proxy Kashmir war?
Meanwhile, India-Pakistan fans are getting abusive online and even using racist epithets. It is a proxy Kashmir war as was expected. It is quite ugly, but wars and sports are played at many levels. Meanwhile, Pakistan fans are certain they are winning on July 5 when they meet Bangladesh. Whether Bangladesh has 7 or 9 points depends on how India behaves, hence Pakistan’s anxiety.
Wasim Akram and other ex-players have warned Pakistan of overconfidence when they meet Bangladesh. One wonders why Pakistan’s attitude is like this as neither Bangladesh nor Pakistan seem to be particularly good teams. New Zealand has lost a touch of shine and England is limping a bit is true. But if one accepts the Pakistani argument that India’s loss to New Zealand was deliberate, then only Australia and India seem unbeatable. New Zealand and England are dependent on the performance of others. If Pakistan goes through, it will be luck, not quality. Same with Bangladesh, probably even more luck.
Which is why the Bangladesh-Pakistan game promises to be so interesting as two teams of roughly the same quality battle without any anxiety of manipulating or fixing.