Rivals support Pakistan after match-fixing claims

A politician’s allegations that Pakistan had deliberately lost Champions Trophy matches have upset the national cricket team and its management, which has even drawn sympathetic support from arch rival India.

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 Associated Press on Wednesday. ”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, alleged earlier in the week that 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, who then 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 October 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 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.”

Favourites 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 programme.

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.” — Sapa-AP

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