<%-- Page Title--%> Chintito <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 125 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

October 3, 2003

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Let there be Light and Quickly


Now you have all heard the story of the 'tube light'. You know; the chap who lights up rather late. You haven't? Okay, forget it! Let's throw light on something else.

So they want us to believe that the lights really went off on 15 September during the 3rd ODI in Lahore so that Duckworth and Lewis came to the fore and six overs were cut in a manner to disadvantage the visiting Bangladeshis against hosts Pakistan. This was a day-night match and lights would have had to be kept alight for only another half an hour to allow Bangladesh its allotted 50 overs. But... This incident should be scrutinised and noted by ICC because it will always be possible for hosts batting first to switch off the lights in their home stadium to inconvenience visitors.

That is however not the reason behind the first paragraph.

Only after the five ODIs were over did it dawn on Cricket Pakistan chief Tauquir Zia that Rashid Latif should be reprimanded and stripped off his captaincy. Rather late, don't you agree? Should not he have blasted Inzamam for dedicating the ODIs to their disgraced captain? Maybe he will. It takes some time for a tube light to start up.

The recent Bangladesh tour of Pakistan will be remembered for the wrong reasons and of course for Rajin's grit, Rafique's consistency, Bashar's attitude in Test matches, Kapali's courage and Khaled Mahmud's strength of character.

After the lacklustre Karachi Test, the tour came alive with news of the Peshawar-Multan plane journey. Most incredibly, the entire Pakistan team was travelling First Class (they call it Economy plus) and their 'respected, honourable, valued and esteemed' guests were seated in the Economy Class equivalent on the same aircraft. What fantastic hosts! I believe any aircraft is big enough to carry both teams in the Economy Class and that is what should have been done. The First Class could have been offered to Umpire Tiffin, who deserves it for sheer loyalty.

If we did not realise how well we were threatening our celebrated hosts, the desperation in Rashid Latif's pickup at the Multan Test should be convincing enough. In the underworld having to cheat to beat some one means you want to win badly, or are about to lose! I hate it when journalists still refer to it as a 'catch'. The Pakistani captain, a so-called champion of scruples (remember the Wasim Akram corruption expo!), picked the ball up from the ground before making the appeal. How's that! Not out! The camera replay showed the world what happened, but Rashid Latif knew it the moment it had happened.

In the end it turned out that a few more minutes of Alok Kapali and a few more runs was all that was required to make Pakistan the first Test victims of Bangladesh. That is what they tried so hard and desperately to avoid, the ignominy of losing an ODI in the 1999 World Cup obviously haunting them, more so because of the lengthening list of Bangladesh's failures since. Happily, this ought to satisfy all and sundry that our Northampton triumph was no 'fixed match'.

They will therefore resort to cheating, intimidation, bribing people with 'tiffin', anything. The 'supposedly neutral' Umpire warned the naturally-excited Test babes for over-appealing in such menacing manner that the visitors later desisted from appealing against genuine cases that let the opponents off the hook more than once. That stance of the umpire and a series of bad decisions also cost us the Third Test. It may not be inappropriate for BCB to contemplate reporting Umpire Tiffin to the ICC now along with video clippings to make sure he does not reappear in Bangladesh during England's forthcoming tour; he is in the panel, so is Pakistan's Dar.

While an official apology was the minimum the Pakistanis could have done and Rashid Latif should definitely have gone up to Kapali that very evening after dinner and regretted the incident, what they did has not for one moment surprised those who are knowledgeable about the Pakistan mindset. At a Press Conference their newly installed captain Inzamam haughtily dedicated their five ODIs to a cheat -- their deposed skipper. How can one dedicate a match to a person who has just hours before been punished by the ICC, 'leniently' in the words of their representative judge? Is not that provocation, Mr. Match Referee Mike Proctor? You were later quicker than Bret Lee to caution Bangladesh's manager for telling (the truth to) Reuters that the Pakistan captain deserved the punishment for cheating and unfair play. After several attempts to light up, even Tauquir Zia agrees though belatedly.

It is now emerging that the Pakistan cricket chief has taken a stand against Rashid Latif because the Pakistan captain, as per the wishes of the PCB, did not appeal to the ICC against his five-match ban. Arrey Bhai! Rashid Latif had already made perhaps the most important appeal of his life and Kapali was given out.

After surviving the Multan Test by the skin of their teeth, Pakistan once again resorted to iniquitous tactics. Overnight they doctored the Multan pitch to leave it bald so that the Test nightmare on patches of green, personified by Mohammad Rafique and Khaled Mahmud, does not reappear. The visiting captain was aghast, but who gives a hoot to an on-the-field hostile official guest in Pakistan?

This was supposed to be cricket, a sporting event that was supposed to foster friendship, long lost as a gentleman's game, but a game nevertheless.

You should keep sports clean of politics, but before that you have to clean sports of politics.


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