The Pakistan cricket team is one of the most successful teams in the history of cricket. During their early stage of cricket, they were dominated each and every opponent in the world. They qualified for semi-finals in three consecutive World Cup tournaments (1979, 1983 and 1987) before becoming the champions of ICC Cricket World Cup 1992.
Even though they could not win any ODI World Cup since 1992, Pakistan are considered as one of the strongest teams in the international circuit. With the likes of Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Shahid Afridi, Inzamam Ul Haq and Saeed Anwar in the team, they have dominated a lot of teams in the 1900s and early 2000s. However, the Pakistan cricketers have been involved in a lot of controversies over the years.
In this article, we will take a look at the five biggest controversies in Pakistan cricket:
5. Bob Woolmer’s mystery death
It was 18th March 2007, when the Pakistan team lost their coach, Bob Woolmer. After having lost the game against Ireland, they were knocked out of the ICC World Cup 2007. Pakistan had lost the game by 3 wickets against Ireland the previous day and the then Pakistan’s coach was unconscious in his hotel bathroom. He was taken to the hospital, however, the doctors could not save him.
The Jamaica Police soon launched an inquiry about the incident. But, they could not find any trace to find the reason behind the coach’s death. There were rumours that he had a plan to write a book to expose more on bookies and match-fixing. Some even went on to say the Pakistan players would have killed him as the coach had enough details on players who have involved in match-fixing. The reason behind his death is still unknown even 13 years later.
4. Lord’s spot-fixing scandal
Mohammad Amir was just 18 years old when he played his 18th Test game against England at Lord’s. He had all the potential to become the next big thing of the Pakistan cricket. He even had a record of taking 50 wickets in fewest Tests. In England’s first innings, the left-arm pacer picked up 6 wickets by conceding 84 runs. Amir could pick the wickets of Alastair Cook, Kevin Pietersen, Eoin Morgan and Paul Collingwood on a trot without conceding a single run.
When the Lord’s crowd were in awe of Amir’s scintillating spell, the then 18-year-old bowled a two big no-balls. Amir bowled a massive no-ball on Day 1 which made the onfield and third umpires to think. Amir’s partner Asif also bowled a no-ball on the first ball of 10th over on day 1. On Day 2, Amir bowled brilliantly and picked up six-for. But, the left-arm pacer bowled a massive no-ball again on Day 3.
Soon after the investigation, the then Pakistan’s skipper Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammed Asif were suspended from cricket after the completion of the third Test. They were sentenced to jail – Butt for 2.5 years, Asif for 1 and Amir for 6 months. Amir, who had accepted guilty to the crime, was banned for 5 years. Butt and Asif who had pleaded not guilty till the end were banned for 10 and 7 years respectively.
3. Shahid Afridi’s ball-tampering saga
In January 2010, in the absence of regular skipper Mohammad Yousuf, Shahid Afridi took the responsibility against Australia in the ODI at the WACA. During the match, Afridi was caught by TV cameras biting the ball on a couple of occasions. The TV umpire reported it to the onfield umpires and the umpires changed the ball after the chat with Afridi.
At that time, Australia needed 35 runs from 30 balls and the hosts went on to win the game with two wickets in the hand. Afridi was investigated by the match referee immediately after the game. The hard-hitter pleaded guilty to the charge and apologised. Shahid Afridi was banned for two T20 Internationals after having involved in the ball-tampering incident.
2. Shadab Khan blackmailed Dubai-based girl
The leg-spinner from Pakistan, Shadab Khan has become an integral part of the team across all formats of the game. In February 2020, he was accused by a Dubai-based girl, Ashreena Safia for threatening her to leak private pictures of Safia. Safia took her Instagram to handle to expose Pakistan cricketer’s behaviour.
Safia said that she has been in touch with the cricketer since March 2019. Since then, she has travelled to various countries wherever Shadab Khan was playing. However, after a Pakistani journalist has posted a story about them, Shadab Khan contacted her through multiple mobile numbers to stop her from telling the story about their relationship.
1. Mohammad Asif was caught with drug substance
Mohammad Asif was set to become the big thing in international cricket. He was known for moving the ball in the air and bought by Delhi Daredevils ahead of IPL 2008. He was banned from the Indian Premier League for a year after prohibited drug Nandrolone was found in his urine sample. While he was travelling back to his country, he was caught at the Dubai airport with 0.24 grams of opium.
Asif had explained to them that he used the substance to boost his blood pressure and energy levels. But, the officials believed that he was found guilty. He was then banned from cricket for a year. The pacer also lost his IPL contract with Delhi Daredevils. However, after the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai, all the Pakistani players were banned from playing in the Indian Premier League.
~Written by KV Silambarasan
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