Pakistan cricket greats Shoaib Akhtar, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis have dismissed allegations of match-fixing and intentional underperformance levelled against Afghanistan on social media following their lopsided loss to India in a T20 World Cup match on Wednesday, and urged fans to not contribute to social trends that fan such conspiracy theories.
India's heavy defeats at the hands of Pakistan and New Zealand meant they needed to win the rest of their Group 2 matches by big margins in order to keep their campaign alive. They successfully completed the first part of the equation by thrashing the Afghans by 66 runs.
The one-sided nature of the defeat coupled with a poor effort in the field raised more than a few eyebrows on social platforms, particularly Twitter, where hashtags such as #WellPaidIndia and #FixedMatch trended, to which Pakistan fans keen to see the back of India contributed heavily. Some cricket writers also contributed to the trend, while Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry's retweets also showed he was in support of the accusation.
Pakistan's legendary pacers, however, reacted strongly against such allegations, as they came to the defence of the Afghan team and told fans that the Indian team was always capable of delivering such drubbings.
Shoaib Akhtar requested his followers to refrain from accusing Afghanistan of fixing, saying "it is not right. Please do not run this trend."
The Rawalpindi Express said there were Shariah courts in the Taliban-run Afghanistan and so their national cricketers, in theory, could be summoned over such allegations.
He stressed that Afghanistan were up against "one of the best teams of the format [India]" and they just failed on merit. "India could be potential contenders of the semi-finals by winning the next two matches convincingly."
Akhtar told Afghan fans to not lose heart over their team's loss and and instead back them up.
He appeared to root for India to stay alive and reach the final so that Team Pakistan could "hammer you [once again]".
Wasim Akram echoed Akhtar's sentiment, reminding the fans that India were a "very good team" and their strong comeback should not surprise anyone.
*Fast-forward to 25:05 to listen to Wasim Akram's take on fixing allegations*
"I don’t know why we like to create such conspiracy theories? India are a very good side and they just had a bad start to the tournament. Rohit Sharma is one of the best players in the world cricket. Afghan bowlers probably got frozen, we must understand that,” Akram said in his post-match analysis shown on A Sports .
He rued the many conspiracy theories in circulation about "little, little" details - a practice he urged should be discontinued.
Waqar Younis also agreed with Akram's assessment, saying such conspiracy theories were "pointless".
The Indian batting finally fired against Afghanistan with Sharma and KL Rahul, who made 69, putting on 140 for the opening wicket to guide India to 210 for two in their must-win Super 12 game in Abu Dhabi.
The tournament's highest total proved too much for Afghanistan who finished on 144-7 in 20 overs.
They still remain in the hunt for the semi-finals along with New Zealand and India. Pakistan have already secured their place in the last-four from the group.
India, who came in as hot favourites but crashed to two straight losses, needed to win their remaining three games and depend on others for their entry in the semis.