Former Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar slammed those claiming that India had planned to underperform in their Asia Cup Super 4 match against Pakistan. Akhtar said he received messages and calls that claimed “India has fixed the game” and will “lose deliberately (vs Sri Lanka) to eliminate Pakistan” from the Asia Cup. After India hammered Pakistan 228 runs, the Men in Green needed India to beat Sri Lanka in their next Super 4 match to have a better chance of qualifying for the final. But India was put under a lot of pressure by Sri Lanka, mainly due to a stunning all-round show by 20-year-old Dunith Wellalage.
The young left-arm spinner gave a major scare to India by dismissing Shubman Gill, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, KL Rahul and Hardik Pandya. He picked up his maiden five-wicket haul to bowl India out for 213. India made a strong comeback with the ball as Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj got three Sri Lankan wickets inside the powerplay before Kuldeep Yadav spun a web around Sri Lanma’s middle order.
But it was Wellalage standing in front of India again, this time with the bat in hand. The left-hander smashed an unbeaten 42 off 46 balls and looked like taking the game away from India but Kuldeep, Hardik, and Ravindra Jadeja got crucial breakthroughs at the other end to bowl Sri Lanka out for 172 and won the match 41 runs.
Akhtar praised the genuine efforts of Wellalage and said it had nothing to do with India’s underperforming. “I don’t know what you guys are doing. I am getting memes and messages saying ‘India has fixed the game’, that they are losing deliberately in order to eliminate Pakistan. Are you alright? They (Sri Lanka) are bowling their heart out. Wellalalge and Asalanka bowled their heart out. Did you see that 20-year-old kid? He scored 43 runs and took 5 wickets. I am getting phone calls from India and other countries, saying India was losing deliberately.”
Akhtar said there is no way India would have taken the Sri Lanka match lightly as they needed to win to ensure qualification for the finals.
“Why would they lose, tell me? They want to go through to the final. You end up making memes without any reason. It was a great fightback from India. The way Kuldeep played, it was massive. Look at Jasprit Bumrah, look at the fight while defending a small total,” Akhtar added.
India is the only team to win both their Super 4 matches. Bangladesh are already out of contention after losing two. Pakistan and Sri Lanka now play a knockout match in Colombo on Friday. Whoever wins the contest will go on to play the final against India but if rain spoilsport then Sri Lanka have the upper hand thanks to their higher net run rate.