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Miandad turns defensive
- I haven’t read anything: Akram

Calcutta: Some 24 hours after a UK tabloid published a damaging extract from his recently-released autobiography (Cutting Edge), the mercurial Javed Miandad has gone on the defensive.

“I haven’t accused any individual of having fixed matches. In fact, meri kitaab koi itni interesting bhi nahin hai,” he told The Telegraph when contacted at the Midlands Crowne Plaza in Manchester, Monday evening.

The tabloid, of course, quoted liberally from a chapter where Miandad, a former Pakistan captain and current coach, suggested that the ODI versus England in Sharjah on April 12, 1999, was fixed.

Led by Wasim Akram, Pakistan lost by 62 runs after being dismissed for 144. Given the side’s form, that surprised.

Apparently, a series of calls alerted Miandad, then in his first stint as coach, that something was amiss. At the break, then, he made the players swear on the Quran — a ‘tactic’ employed by Intikhab Alam in the early Nineties — and, not surprisingly, fireworks exploded.

The extract reads: “Some of the seniors were specially riled up… I outlined a simple strategy and alerted everyone to play according to plan. The way our innings proceeded, though, it was as if I hadn’t said a word to anyone. It was a pathetic performance…

“… With all the talk of betting syndicates in international cricket, and with match-fixing allegations swirling around major centres like Sharjah, I was also concerned that our performance may have had little to do with cricket. It wasn’t easy for me to shake off this idea…”

Miandad, however, countered: “Look, I haven’t read the newspaper… Main kaise kahoon ki theek-theek chhapa ki nahin' In any case, my observations were general. After all, cricket mein kuch to ho raha tha. Or else, the Hansie Cronje scandal wouldn’t have occurred…”

With the three-game NatWest Challenge getting underway Tuesday, Miandad had a team meeting to convene. The conversation, therefore, ended on that Cronje-note.

It’s unlikely, though, that the last has been heard about that match. And, pretty embarrassed must be the Pakistan Cricket Board supremo, Lt General Tauqir Zia, who released the autobiography!

Significantly, Akram declined to say much. “I haven’t read anything… Main phir kya kahoon'” was his exclusive response, when reached for a comment during Hampshire’s nets in Southampton.

Present captain Rashid Latif’s reaction, understandably, was exactly the same.

The International Cricket Council’s Anti-Corruption Unit, however, could have much to say.

For the record, the Pakistan squad in England has just two ‘survivors’ from that infamous game: Shoaib Akhtar and Azhar Mahmood.

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