Veteran Pakistani umpire rubbishes fixing claims, reminds fans of India’s batting collapse against Sri Lanka
Sept 19 (Khaleej Times) – There has been an avalanche of social media posts in Pakistan after Sri Lanka slumped to 50 all out in the Asia Cup final, with many Pakistani fans pointing an accusing finger at the organisers, who they believe ‘fixed’ Sunday’s match in Colombo.
‘Fixed’ was also trending on X, more than 24 hours after India’s eighth Asia Cup triumph.
But UAE’s veteran Pakistani umpire Tariq Butt maintains that such batting failures are not uncommon at the highest level.
“Yes, it was surprising that the match (Asia Cup final) ended so early. But such things can happen in cricket,” Butt told the Khaleej Times before referring to a famous match he officiated in.
The former Pakistan first-class cricketer was the dressing room in charge and the fourth umpire when the tri-nation Coca-Cola Champions Trophy was staged at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium in October 2000.
Sri Lanka and India reached the final after the round-robin stage with Zimbabwe, the third team, ending their campaign without a single win.
But the final turned out to be a nightmare for every Indian fan.
Sri Lanka rode on Sanath Jayasuriya’s magnificent 189 off 161 balls to make an imposing 299 for five.
The Lankans were the favourites, having also beaten India twice in the round-robin matches.
But the legions of Indian fans still backed their team featuring Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Yuvraj Singh, Vinod Kambli and Robin Singh, to put up a fight against the in-form Lankan team.
What followed next, though, was an abysmal collapse from India’s stars as Ganguly’s team was bundled out for 54 in perfect batting conditions with Chaminda Vaas (9.3-1-14-5) destroying the top-order.
“I will never forget that match. I remember (Lankan captain) Jayasuriya requested the Indian team before that final if they could swap the dressing rooms,” recalled Butt.
“Those days, one dressing room in Sharjah was more spacious than the other one. India was using the bigger dressing room in that tournament, and Sri Lanka wanted that one in the final. But Indian captain Ganguly turned down Jayasuriya’s request.
“I don’t know if Jayasuriya was angry with Ganguly and his team, but he hammered the Indian bowling attack in the final.
“Sri Lanka was a very good team back then. But nobody thought India’s batsmen would collapse like that on that pitch!
“There was nothing wrong on the pitch. It was the same pitch where Sri Lanka made almost 300 runs. But sometimes these things happen in cricket, a team can suffer an unexpected collapse.”
Butt was also a match official when Pakistan were bowled out for 87 in Sharjah chasing a modest 126 against India in the first match of the 1985 Rothmans Four-Nations Cup.
“That was a low-scoring game in which batsmen from both sides struggled,” Butt said. “But the India-Sri Lanka final in 2000 was different because only one team suffered a batting collapse. As I said, it can happen in cricket.”