Bengaluru, July 5: Pakistan are a favourite victim of law whenever something goes wrong for them on the cricket field. In 1999, the Men in Green were well on their way to lift their second world title under the leadership of Wasim Akram till lightning struck in Northampton.
The date was May 31 and Pakistan cricket will not forget it easily. Pakistan had already qualified for the Super Six with four consecutive wins over teams like the West Indies, Scotland, Australia and New Zealand and had just one game remaining, which was against debutants Bangladesh who were out of the fray with just one win.
In the match, Akram won the toss and asked Aminul Islam's side to bat first and they scored 223 for 9 in 50 overs. Pakistan then had a horrendous start to their chase and were reeling at 5 for 42.
Azhar Mahmood (29) and Akram (29) put up some resistance but Pakistan were all out for only 161 to lose by 62 runs. Given the tense history in their relationship, this result has made a sensational headline and Pakistan were yet once again accused of fixing the game.
The situation had become so troublesome for Pakistan that even an investigation was launched and Akram had to say before the Lahore High Court that he was shocked to hear such allegations against Pakistan when they were playing well.
Pakistan went all the way to the final but was crushed by Australia there. Another allegation was in the waiting after that loss, poor Pakistan!
Akram defended the loss against Bangladesh saying the Pakistan players were a bit complacent in that game since they had already made the Super Six with full carry-forward points and had one bad day in the field.
"We reached the final yet have been maligned by allegations. It's unacceptable and baseless," BBC quoted Akram as saying as late as December 2001.
"Cricket is a game of chances and since we took Bangladesh very lightly we lost, its simple," the former all-rounder added.
Players feel relaxed playing weak teams
"When we play weak teams we feel relaxed. The boys took the match very easily as we had already qualified for the Super Six stage after winning four matches in a row."
Even Akram's performance against Bangladesh had come under the scanner. Though he had conceded just 35 runs in his 10 overs after coming one change, he bowled eight wides and four no balls.
The judge, Justice Karamat Bhandari, had even asked him the reason for giving so many extras. To that, Akram's reply was: "I am an attacking bowler and when a fast bowler tries to attack it's but normal that he bowls wide. It is not easy to bowl wide deliveries intentionally."
Besides the Bangladesh loss, even Pakistan's defeat to arch-rivals India in the Super Six stage at Old Trafford had come under scrutiny for fixing allegations. In his defence, the legendary former all-rounder said Pakistan take matches with India as war.
Pakistan will take on Bangladesh in their second meeting in a World Cup at the Lord's on Friday (July 5).