Sunil Gavaskar expressed strong criticism for anyone who entertained the notion that India intentionally aimed to lose their Super 4 match against Sri Lanka.
As India celebrated their record-extending 8th Asia Cup win, Sunil Gavaskar has come down hard on those who believed even for a second that Rohit Sharma and Co. deliberately wanted to lose their Super 4 match against Sri Lanka to deny Pakistan a place in the final. The India vs Sri Lanka game last Wednesday was the most evenly-contested match of the Asia Cup 2023, which saw SL gave IND a scare before Rohit and his men closed the contest by 41 runs. Yet, when India were in trouble, first getting bowled out for 213 and then being at the receiving end of a counter-attacking partnership from Dhananjaya de Silva and Dunith Wellalage, section of the public, especially those across the border were quick to jump the gun hinting at a 'conspiracy' to knock Pakistan out.
Gavaskar took none of these outrageous allegations and lambasted individuals for harbouring such ridiculous thought process. After Pakistan were officially knocked out, losing the virtual semifinal to Sri Lanka, Gavaskar was expecting some more conspiracy theories to be dished out, although he wasn't too surprised when Pakistan and its media directed all their ager to captain Babar Azam.
"What a tight slap on the faces of all those across the Western border who were screaming and shrieking that Bharat after being dismissed for 213 against Sri Lanka was purposely losing the game so as to deprive Pakistan of a place in the final. Did these brainless people even think of the possibility that after Bharat loses the game to Sri Lanka and then Pakistan beat Sri Lanka and the Bharat v Bangladesh game gets rained off, it was Bharat who would not have qualified for the final. So why would Bharat lose deliberately to Sri Lanka? Morons," Gavaskar wrote in his column for Mid-Day.
"When Pakistan lost to Sri Lanka and were knocked out of the tournament, we were expecting some more conspiracy theories blaming Bharat for the loss, but surprises never cease so they forgot everything else and concentrated on lambasting their skipper Babar Azam for their exit from the tournament."
The former India captain's mind then harked back to four years ago, when similar accusations had marred Indian cricket. During the 2019 World Cup, India, who were already through to the semifinal, were playing their last league game against England, and a defeat for them, would result in Pakistan's elimination from the tournament. Chasing 338 to win, India needed 104 off the last 10 overs, reduced to 71 off five when Kedar Jadhav and MS Dhoni engaged in a snoozefest and played for run-rate than winning the game.
During their time together at the crease, they managed to play out seven dot balls and squeezed in 20 singles out of the 31 balls faced. Dhoni contributed 42 runs from 31 deliveries, while Jadhav scored 12 runs off 13 balls in what can only be described as a rather peculiar passage of play. Despite having five wickets in hand, India could only muster a total of 306 runs. Gavaskar shed light on the same and urged Pakistan to lift their game rather than engage in finger-pointing.
"A similar conspiracy theory was propounded when Bharat lost to England in the group game of the 2019 World Cup. The allegations were that MS Dhoni, of all people, deliberately batted slowly. Those who know MSD will vouch for the fact that he likes to take the game deep and then go bang-bang. England bowled superbly so he couldn't do it then, but the morons thought it was done deliberately to deny them a place in the semi-finals," he added.
"Let's be frank and understand that when it comes to the World Cup teams, they would do anything to ensure they get to the final. That said, why depend on another team for your team's progress? Why don't you win all the games and win the tournament yourself instead of pointing fingers at any other team? It must be galling to depend on Bharat to qualify for the knockout stages of a tournament."