Team India may have won their Asia Cup T20 encounter—not quite in a canter—but for a while, Indian fans could have believed that there was to be a reprisal of those Sharjah days when their arch-rivals Pakistan beat them more often than not.
It was not to be.
Mohammad Amir had a point to prove and he did leaving India tottering at 8-3.
But he lacked support.
The knocking over of the top order brought back memories of India touring South Africa when Dale Steyn and his cohorts gave Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan a torrid time in the opening overs.
It just goes to show that even the best batsmen struggle against top-class pace bowling.
And it also reminded us why Pakistan were so quick to reinstall Amir as their main hit man.
Virat Kohli showed why he’s the most reliable bat in the side.
Yuvraj Singh struggled abjectly but stuck around till the end to see India through.
The next game in the T20 World Cup is eagerly anticipated.
The selection of Mohammad Amir to Pakistan’s national squad stirred up a hornet’s nest not just in the local media but also had the nation and former and current cricketers divided about the merits or demerits of the Pakistan Cricket Board’s decision.
Two of his teammates Mohammad Hafiz and Azhar Ali refused to join the camp and relented only after some convincing by the PCB.
Amir, Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif were banned for accepting money in a spot-fixing scandal involving a Test match at Lord’s against England in 2010.
The three players and their agent Mazhar Majeed were jailed by a British court in 2011.
They were also banned by the ICC for five years.
Amir was then only 18.
The ban has been served and Amir served notice of his precocious talent by handily claiming wickets by the bagful.
22 wickets in four non-first class games, another 34 in the Quaid-e-Azam trophy capped by another 14 in the Bangladesh Premier League.
The Pakistani selectors could hardly ignore him given their lack of pace options.
“My stance was based on principle and it was portrayed in a wrong sense. My stance is the same against all players who stained Pakistan’s image through corruption.
It’s my right to raise my voice, which I did, and I will do everything in my capacity to fight corruption. My stance is that all corrupt players should not be given another chance to represent Pakistan.”
The PCB stuck to their guns claiming that they were right.
Their statement read:
“There are a few players and commentators who are opposed to his selection. But in the past, spot fixers and drugs cheats have been permitted re-entry in to the international arena after serving their sentence. They include Marlon Samuels, Herschelle Gibbs, Tyson Gay [an American sprinter],
After serving his six-month probation, Amir has been participating in domestic first class cricket with success.
He has also performed well in the BPL. Accordingly, Amir has been called to the fitness camp which will enable him to bond with national players. His selection for the national team, for which he is eligible, would depend on the selectors.”
The PCB has a point. Amir has served his sentence and has to be given his chance for redemption.
Rashid Latif, who risked his career blowing the whistle on his former teammates in 1995, was not so forgiving.
“Amir is a living example of someone who betrayed Pakistan in an international match.
Let him live his life but don’t allow him to play for the country again. He can play domestic cricket and play in different leagues but don’t allow him to wear the same national colour which stalwarts like Hanif Mohammad, Imran Khan, Majid Khan, Wasim Bari, Fazal Mahmood and Javed Miandad wore with pride.”
Mohammad Yousuf felt otherwise.
“Amir is a wonderful bowler and since he has completed his sentence he has every right to play for Pakistan again.
Amir is performing very well since his ban was lifted and his inclusion will strengthen Pakistan team, so I back his inclusion.”
Azhar Mahmood, writing for PakPassion.net, said:
“I think it is the right thing to do and I support the PCB in this decision. Look, we as human beings are prone to make mistakes. This is human nature. In Amir’s case, he made a mistake and has served his punishment. Now that the ban has lapsed, it’s time for everyone to move forward and give him another chance. Even from a religious point of view, we need to forgive him and move on.”
Amir , the man at the centre of storm , said:
“I promise that I will do my best to respect the prestige of the green cap and Pakistan shirt.”
With S Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan absolved of any criminal complicity in the IPL spot-fixing and betting scandal and the BCCI drawing a line in the sand claiming that their ban on the aforesaid individuals will not be revoked, Indian cricket fans are in for more courtroom drama involving the BCCI and the freed trio.
The Delhi court order leaves the field open for the three players to challenge the nation’s premier cricket body and overturn the ban. This may be a long drawn-out process. There is no guarantee that if and when the ban is nullified, the players will be at their best. They have lost their prime years while serving the ban.
Mohammad Azharuddin, Nayan Mongia and Ajay Jadeja cleared their names by taking on the BCCI via the Indian judicial system. Yet, only Jadeja was able to make a comeback of sorts to competitive cricket.
What must perplex every cricket aficionado is how and why one tribunal found the IPL players guilty and the other did not. The evidence presented in both cases was the same. Strange are the ways of the Indian judicial system and the BCCI.
The BCCI responded to the Delhi High Court’s verdict thus:
“Any disciplinary proceeding or decision taken by the BCCI is independent of any criminal proceeding and has no bearing. The decisions of the BCCI, based on its independent disciplinary action, shall remain unaltered.The BCCI has nothing to do with acriminal case between the police and individuals. The disciplinary proceedings of the board and the criminal case of the police are independent of each other. In certain cases a charge is enough in a departmental inquiry while the same charge is needed to be proved in a court of law.”
PR Raman, a former legal officer with the cricketing body, said:
“The standard of proof in a court is different from standard of proof in a BCCI inquiry. Acquittal in a court cannot have any influence on the BCCI action which was taken independent of court rules.The degree of strictness is different from a court and a domestic/departmental inquiry. The laws in courts are not similar to those in the BCCI. The BCCI goes by its own code of conduct.Savani had found out that they were hobnobbing with bookies. That is enough to prove the players guilty. Talking to bookies is unacceptable under the BCCI code.”
Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Asif and Salman Butt were handed five, seven and ten years bans by an ICC tribunal. The criminal case that followed wherein the ICC verdict was not made available to the English press to prevent biasing any jury found the above guilty of conspiracy to cheat at gambling and accepting corrupt payments. Butt and Asif were sentenced to 30 and 12 months in prison respectively while Amir was sentenced to six months in Feltham Young Offenders Institution.
The teen-aged fast bowler was freed after serving only half his sentence.
The ICC tribunal and the Southwark Crown Court were one in accord.
The discordant note struck yesterday will have warning bells going off within the BCCI once more.