India batting legend Sunil Gavaskar hailed Rohit Sharma and co.’s Asia Cup 2023 title win and called it a tight slap on the conspiracy theorists from across the border, who believed that the Men in Blue deliberately wanted to lose their Super 4 match against Sri Lanka so that Pakistan wouldn’t qualify for the final.
The India vs. Sri Lanka game last Wednesday was the most evenly-contested match of the Asia Cup 2023, which saw the Lankans give Rohit and co. a scare before the eventual champions closed the contest by 41 runs.
India could only manage 213 runs batting first on a spin-friendly wicket and had Sri Lanka in trouble, before a counter-attacking partnership from Dhananjaya de Silva and Dunith Wellalage, ran warning bells. But India bounced back strongly to win the match and qualify for the finals.
After Pakistan was officially knocked out, losing the virtual semifinal to Sri Lanka, Gavaskar was expecting some more conspiracy theories to be dished out.
"What a tight slap on the faces of all those across the Western border who were screaming and shrieking that Bharat after being dismissed for 213 against Sri Lanka was purposely losing the game to deprive Pakistan of a place in the final. Did these brainless people even think of the possibility that after Bharat loses the game to Sri Lanka and then Pakistan beats Sri Lanka and the Bharat v Bangladesh game gets rained off, it was Bharat who would not have qualified for the final? So why would Bharat lose deliberately to Sri Lanka? Morons," Gavaskar wrote in his column for Mid-Day.
"When Pakistan lost to Sri Lanka and were knocked out of the tournament, we were expecting some more conspiracy theories blaming Bharat for the loss, but surprises never cease so they forgot everything else and concentrated on lambasting their skipper Babar Azam for their exit from the tournament,” he added.
Gavaskar remembered similar accusations which were made on the Indian team, after they lost to England in a 2019 World Cup match, which knocked out Pakistan from the race of the semi-finals. Chasing 338 to win, India needed 104 off the last 10 overs, which became 71 off five when Kedar Jadhav and MS Dhoni engaged in a snoozefest and played for run-rate rather than winning the game.
Dhoni contributed 42 runs from 31 deliveries, while Jadhav scored 12 runs off 13 balls and despite having five wickets in hand, India could only muster a total of 306 runs. Gavaskar shed light on the same and urged Pakistan to lift their game rather than engage in finger-pointing.
"A similar conspiracy theory was propounded when Bharat lost to England in the group game of the 2019 World Cup. The allegations were that MS Dhoni, of all people, deliberately batted slowly. Those who know MSD will vouch for the fact that he likes to take the game deep and then go bang-bang. England bowled superbly so he couldn't do it then, but the morons thought it was done deliberately to deny them a place in the semi-finals," he added.
"Let's be frank and understand that when it comes to the World Cup teams, they would do anything to ensure they get to the final. That said, why depend on another team for your team's progress? Why don't you win all the games and win the tournament yourself instead of pointing fingers at any other team? It must be galling to depend on Bharat to qualify for the knockout stages of a tournament,” he said.
India defeated Sri Lanka in the final of the Asia Cup in a dominating performance to become 8-time champions.