| Rameez Raja
Calcutta: Former Pakistan captain Rameez Raja, the first to be given out obstructing the field in ODIs, feels that some laws are actually “below the belt” and not in keeping with the “spirit” of cricket.
“Having myself entered the record books unusually, there’s no disputing that Inzy (Inzamam-ul Haq) was out in Peshawar. However, certain laws are below the belt ' out obstructing the field being one ' and clearly deviate from the spirit in which cricket should be played,” he told The Telegraph.
Contacted in Lahore, on Thursday afternoon, Rameez added: “My own belief is the Indians may not have appealed (after the Pakistan captain ‘played’ one from substitute fielder Suresh Raina) had just a couple of runs remained for us to win... But the match was at a critical stage and Inzy’s wicket is a huge one...
“Given that the stadium was packed to capacity and emotions were running high, we could have had a very ugly situation had Pakistan lost owing to that rare dismissal... In any case, the margin wasn’t that big (seven runs, under the Duckworth/Lewis Method).”
[The script was different, but the Wasim Akram-captained Pakistan didn’t take into account Sachin Tendulkar’s obstruction by Shoaib Akhtar when (successfully) appealing for a run-out in the Asian Test Championship face-off at the Eden seven years ago. Owing to an injury while getting off the team bus, Inzamam missed that match, but couldn’t have missed the incident.]
In Rameez’s opinion, former captains (not to speak of Inzamam himself) have probably used the dismissal to “get even” with Team India coach Greg Chappell for questioning Shoaib’s action in a TV interview.
“It seems tit-for-tat... It’s disappointing because the Shoaib issue and the latest one don’t do justice to the stature of an Indo-Pak series... The cricket must be hard, but that’s it... For me, what’s relevant is Rahul Dravid giving tips to Faisal Iqbal and Imran (Khan) having a word with the Zaheer Khans... That should be the spirit,” he said.
Incidentally, Rameez was given out on 99 in the Karachi ODI against Mike Gatting’s England, back in 1987, and Pakistan fell short of the 264-run target by 20.
Laughing, he recalled: “Of course, I wasn’t laughing then... It was the last ball and I’d told my partner (off-spinner Zahid Ahmed) we would run two... I don’t know why, but he stopped after the first and Neil Foster rolled the ball towards the stumps at the non-striker’s end... Out of frustration, I hit it in the direction of square-leg and England’s appeal was upheld...
“I wasn’t confused like Inzy and instantly knew I’d made a mistake... I don’t recall any of the Englishmen saying sorry that I fell on 99... Frankly, I wasn’t expecting any show of regret either...”
Besides Rameez and Inzamam, the one other batsman to be dismissed similarly in 2,325 ODIs is our very own Mohinder Amarnath (India still won by six runs) ' in a Nehru Cup engagement versus Sri Lanka in Motera, 17 years ago. It’s an Asians-only club...