Dubai: The smoke over a few comments by England allrounder Ben Stokes in his new book ‘On Fire,’ referring to India’s approach in chasing England’s huge target of 337 in the ICC World Cup last year, refused to die down with former Pakistan leg spinner Mushtaq Ahmed also weighing in on the issue.
Mushtaq Ahmed, who was then working as a spin bowling consultant with the West Indies team, said in an interview that West Indies opener Chris Gayle suggested to him that India were playing to a plan to scuttle Pakistan’s hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals of the mega event.
“I was working with the West Indies squad at last year’s World Cup. After India’s loss to England, Jason Holder, Chris Gayle and Andre Russell said to me, Mushy, India didn’t want to see Pakistan qualify for the semi-finals. There is no rocket science in it,” said Mushtaq.
“England commentators, Nasser Hussain and Michael Artheton, had also pointed this issue out then. If you try to play with cricket, it will play with you. India became overconfident as everyone thought they were favourites,” he added.
“We are only discussing that India didn’t show any intent while batting. I think there was no intent when they were bowling as well. When you pick up two or three early wickets then you try to wrap up the innings as a captain. You don’t let the opposition build a partnership. England shouldn’t have made 337 after they lost two or three wickets early,” Mushtaq said.
Stokes, Man of the Series in the tournament, raked up one of the most intriguing matches of the tournament in his book where he questioned the tactics of the Indian team in match against England.
The England star wrote that “there was little or no intent from Dhoni” in the match, and described the partnership between Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli as “mystifying”. Sharma hit 102 while Dhoni scored 42 off 31 balls but India fell short of their 338-run target in 31-run loss at Edgbaston.
Chasing a 300-plus score, Kohli & Co were well poised at 198 for two from 36 overs but lost the plot in the last 10 overs.
Stokes, however, was quick to refute a tweet from former Pakistan seam bowler Sikander Bakht, now a TV pundit, who wrote: ‘‘Ben Stokes writes in his book that India lost to England deliberately to remove Pakistan from world Cup 19 and we predicted it.’’
In response to Bakht’s tweet, a Twitter used asked where has Stokes made such comments and Stokes himself replied: “You won’t find it cause I have never said it... it’s called “twisting of words” or “click bait”.”
“There is a theory in our camp that Dhoni’s way of playing has always been the same. Even if India can’t win the game, he takes it right to the end to try to make sure that India’s run-rate stays relatively healthy,” Stokes wrote.
“His big thing has always been to give himself a chance of winning by being at the crease for the final over, but he generally likes to stick around to get as close to a target as possible even in a losing cause,” the book added.