Shoaib Akhtar’s words can, at times, be as lethal as his bouncers on the cricket field. The former Pakistan speedster, who is often in the news for his over-the-top statements, said he was “relieved” that India lost their last Asia Cup Super 4 match to Bangladesh on Friday. Bangladesh bowed out of Asia Cup 2023 on a high by beating India by six runs at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo. Yes, India rested five of their first-XI players including Virat Kohli, Hardik Pandya and Japrit Bumrah but Bangladesh, who too made quite a few changes to their XI, put in their best show of the tournament to topple the heavyweights. This was their first victory over India in an Asia Cup match since 2012.
In reply to Bangladesh’s 265/8, India was bowled out for 259 on the penultimate ball of its innings — with Mohammad Shami run out — after opener Shubman Gill scored 121. After Bangladesh’s win in the inconsequential match, Akhtar said it was an “embarrassing loss” for India, who have already made it to the final.
“India have lost the game. Embarrassing loss. We can’t criticise too much. Bangladesh are here to play. People were criticising Pakistan, saying that they got beaten up. Sri Lanka are a good team, not an average team. The same is the case with Bangladesh. They are all playing international cricket. Finally, some relief for the Pakistan fans, including me, that India have lost the game,” Akhtar said on his YouTube channel.
Akhtar’s comments came as Pakistan were knocked out of the Asia Cup after losing to Sri Lanka in a must-win game. India had beaten Pakistan and Sri Lanka to confirm their spot in the final.
The Rawalpindi Express said Bangladesh is “not an average” team and this should serve as a wake-up call for India who will face Sri Lanka in the final on Sunday eyeing a record-extending eighth Asia Cup title.
“What a wake-up call for India before the final. You can’t take teams lightly after winning a few games. No disrespect to them but Bangladesh made a statement that they are here to prove a point,” Akhtar added.
‘Keep your World Cup predictions to yourself’: Akhtar
The former right-arm pacer also went on to add that there are no clear favourites for the upcoming ODI World Cup in India as it can be anybody’s game.
“We are saying that Pakistan and India are favourites at World Cup. These two, along with Australia and England, will reach the semis. This is not the case. Keep your predictions to yourself. A strong team like India has lost to Bangladesh. Shubman Gill’s century was also of no use. Small teams will trouble. This is anybody’s game. Shubman Gill’s ton went in vain. Now it’s anybody’s game in World Cup,” he said.