Pakistan match throwing allegations upset team

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The Independent Online

A politician's allegation that Pakistan deliberately lost Champions Trophy matches has deeply upset the players and management of the national cricket team, which has drawn sympathetic support from rivals India and Australia.

Pakistan coach Intikhab Alam said he was upset and disappointed by the allegations, which were so appalling that even former India test captain Bishen Singh Bedi had called him for support.

"I'm deeply hurt, it's totally disappointing," Alam told The Associated Press today. "Without any evidence these allegations are made and I think it's not patriotic."

Jamshed Dasti, chairman of the Standing Committee on Sports in the Lower House of Parliament, told the AP earlier in the week that he thought Pakistan lost to Australia in its last group match to prevent India from reaching the semifinals. The match against Australia went down to the last ball, after Australia had been seemingly in a strong position to chase down a modest total before Pakistan rallied.

Pakistan then lost a semifinal to New Zealand, which lost the final by six wickets to Australia.

The sports committee has summoned Alam, captain Younis Khan and Pakistan Cricket Board champion Ijaz Butt to a meeting on Oct. 13 to clarify the allegations.

"So far I have not received the invitation, but I have absolutely no problems in appearing before the committee," Alam said.

The Pakistan coach said he received a telephone call from Indian great Bedi on Wednesday.

"Bedi told me, 'You have done so much for the Pakistan team and it's totally disappointing when such baseless allegations come up,"' Alam said.

Pakistan won the Twenty20 World Cup under Alam's guidance in June and qualified for the semifinals of the Champions Trophy — defeating archrival India and understrength West Indies in the group games before losing back-to-back matches to Australia and New Zealand.

"We are the only team which (reached) the last four of the two mega events this year and it's a big achievement," Alam said.

"Do you think one-day matches could be designed in such a way that it could go to the stretch?" Alam asked of the Australia result. "We did our best against both Australia and against New Zealand."

Favorites South Africa, Sri Lanka and India didn't qualify for the semifinals of the Champions Trophy, which is the second most important limited-overs tournament on the International Cricket Council's program.

Yet, Alam said, nobody in those countries had questioned the credibility of their national teams.

"All these three teams were favorites for the title before the tournament began, but it's just in Pakistan that our own people are hurling allegations on us," Alam said. "You can't win every game and I think we played very well in the Champions Trophy."

Australia batsman Mike Hussey played in the match and came to the defense of the Pakistani lineup.

"I batted for quite a bit of that game and I can tell you they were going at 100 per cent," Hussey, who scored 64 in the run chase, was quoted saying Wednesday by the Australian Associated Press. "They were charging around and really keen to get the wickets and then try to win the game.

"From my point of view, where I was sitting, it's definitely false accusations."