Former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram was widely regarded as one of the greatest fast bowlers to play the game. However, his career hadn’t been short of controversies; in 1996, Akram sparked multiple rumours with his absence from the quarter-final match against India in the 1996 World Cup. The former Pakistan skipper had pulled out of the game fifteen minutes before the toss due to an injury. Akram, who was the captain of the side at the time, created such a stir by his absence that even 26 years after the tournament, he continues to face the questions on the same.
Last month, Akram had addressed the speculations over his absence again in a rather disgruntled way, when a question from a fan left the Pakistan legend frustrated. “I got injured during the game against New Zealand. I got 34 runs. I went for a sweep shot, the fine leg was up, and I got my muscle pulled. That takes six weeks (to recover). The reason hamne press ko nahi bataaya, ki India ko confidence naa mile ki inka main player nahi khel raha (The reason we didn’t tell the press was because India would have gained confidence if they knew I wasn’t playing),” Akram had said.
He further called the entire incident “embarrassing.”
In an interaction with ESPNCricinfo, Akram spoke in detail about the controversy again, and insisted why he was being blamed when he didn’t even play the game. The former Pakistan star stated that the side was in a winning position until the 15th over of the innings, when the wickets eventually start tumbling for the men in green.
“Knowing the cricket in the 90s, there was hardly any trust, in a way. You see, coming to the 96 World Cup quarterfinal, 11 players were winning the game till the 15th over, second innings. Suddenly, they lost wickets and the blame came on me. I still can’t get over it. What were the 11 people doing there who were chasing 270-odd, being 124/0 (113/2) in 15 overs?” Akram asked.
“How did that news came out? Who spread that news? Think about it.”
When asked whether he pondered retirement following the controversy, Akram said that it instead made him stronger.
“I’m a stubborn person. If somebody pushes me the wrong way, I’ll make sure I stand. I didn’t want my cricket to finish. I wanted to play cricket for Pakistan while certain people didn’t want me to play. That actually motivated me to play cricket,” said Akram.