How to Stay out of the World Cup semis

This was a World Cup where all sorts of odd things were happening. Can anything be weirder than the first ‘timed out’ dismissal in international cricket? Such a dismissal has not yet happened in either Tests or T20 matches. But Angelo Matthews of Sri Lanka was ‘timed out’ after an appeal by Bangladesh skipper Shakibul Hassan in their match while Sri Lanka was setting a target.

It seems to have worked, for Sri Lanka ultimately lost. I’ve not got the reason for the hoo-ha afterwards, as I don’t see how it’s against the spirit of the game. Look, cricket has always been a mean-spirited, take-any-advantage-you-can sort of affair, which is why Aussies are so good at it, and why Indians are doing well.

Bangladesh has made a habit of beating previous winners, as they’ve beaten Pakistan and Australia as well as Sri Lanka, though they lost to Australia and India. They were supposed to lose against India, in order to further the country’s diplomacy.

Something seems to have gone wrong, though. SL Cricket’s board has been made to resign by the government, over allegations that it had made money by ensuring those losses. The ICC has sprung to the defence of the outgoing board by suspending Sri Lanka’s membership. Is the ICC also on the take?

There’s a lot of allegations about money swirling around. Everyone knows about Inzamam, the sports representatives’ company, players’ central contracts, and Zaka Ashraf. Interestingly, some have gone so far as to say PPP Chief Asif Zardari insisted on having Zaka Ashraf appointed PCB chief so that he could use the World Cup to launder money.

Well, it was probably wrong to let India host the World Cup. The Mumbai Match-fixers, formerly the Bombay Bookies, couldn’t be expected to forgo the opportunity. I suspect that sometime or the other, there’re going to be revelations that will make Jonty Rhodes, Azaharuddin and Salman Butt look like angels.

In passing, Sri Lanka got beaten by New Zealand. That let Pakistan a slight chance. Well, it was so slight that it probably didn’t exist, except as a function of the higher mathematics. You see, Pakistan had to beat England by 245 runs, or achieve the target, which turned out to be 338, in 2.3 overs. That was only theoretically possible if the England bowlers bowled a lot of no-balls. Things like that do not happen in international cricket. And they didn’t. Let alone 2.3 overs, Pakistan didn’t make the target in 50, and handed England a consolation win.

You can’t say all creativity is dead, no matter that Pakistan is out of the World Cup. Look at Asad Umar, who left the PTI by Twitter (now called X), and by neither a press conference nor a TV interview. That’s set the bar high. What next? Hanging from Minar-e-Pakistan while making a cat face? Being shown on the screen during a PSL game. Asad Umar has also announced that he is leaving politics. Yeah, right, that’s what Fawad Chaudhry said. And he was next seen in the IStehkam Pakistan Party. I don’t know where Asad Umar will go next. Apart from the IPP, his brother Muhammad Zubair is in the PML(N).

Frankly, I would like to know what rock he was living under. I mean, he resigned quickly enough as Secretary General after May 9, so what has changed? Has it become clear to him that the PTI wouldn’t be delivered to him for the election, as Imran Khan is leaning on his sister, or else his wife is going to be anointed.

While Asad Umar has left politics, the KP caretaker CM Azam Khan has left this vale of tears altogether. The chief ministership capped a long career, and came late in life. He was 86, and the real problem is that elections to his Assembly were not held in time. If they had been, he would ha ve returned to private life in time to prepare for the Hereafter.

But as it is, I don’t know what’ll happen now. The province must have a chief minister. But neither is there a Leader of the House or Leader of the Opposition (they had evolved a consensus back in January). Does the CEC do the needful? A lesson to those responsible that they name someone who can stay the course.


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