Melbourne/New Delhi/Dhaka: International Cricket Council (ICC) President Mustafa Kamal has accused the umpires of favouritism in Bangladesh's 109-run defeat against India in the World Cup quarter-final which has triggered angry reactions in the country. His sentiments have been echoed by fans and supporters in Bangladesh.
But the Indian cricket board and the ICC chief executive rubbished the accusations.
Kamal, the ICC president, who hails from Bangladesh, said it could have been a deliberate attempt to throw out his country from the quadrennial event. "It could be deliberate. Though I can't say it absolutely but it looks like that. I know in cricket, human errors are quite possible, but how can a dozen decisions go against Bangladesh? It was very, very poor umpiring," Kamal said in Dhaka on Friday.
Kamal said such horrendous umpiring decisions came as a shock to him. "I was there in the ground and I saw whatever happened. What happened was just not on, so many mistakes cannot take place in a single match. It naturally created a furore among the fans," he said.
Kamal made it clear that the issue would be raised in the next ICC meeting. He said he was also surprised at the slogans on display boards across the MCG, which read "Jitega bhai jitega, India jitega." (only India will win)
He also admitted that such slogans on the screens were a violation of the ICC rules. "Umpiring errors killed the game, but I was surprised how could messages supporting India be displayed on the giant screens. It looked as if India's win was pre-decided. I told the ICC CEO (Dave Richardson) about it and even he said it was wrong and should be stopped. In spite of that it didn't stop. Such things are going to kill the game," Kamal alleged.
The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) will lodge a complaint with the ICC about poor umpiring.
But ICC chief executive David Richardson dismissed Kamal's comments terming them as 'personal' and said they were not made in his capacity as the ICC president. “The ICC has noted Mr Mustafa Kamal's comments, which are very unfortunate but made in his personal capacity. As an ICC president, he should have been more considerate in his criticism of ICC match officials, whose integrity cannot be questioned. The no-ball decision was a 50-50 call. The spirit of the game dictates that the umpire's decision is final and must be respected," Richardson said.
Richardson said any allegation of favouritism was baseless and urged the fans to look at the positive developments emerging from the ongoing tournament. "Any suggestion that the match officials had 'an agenda' or did anything other than perform to the best of their ability are baseless and are refuted in the strongest possible terms. We now look forward to an exciting last few matches of what has been a very successful and interesting ICC Cricket World Cup 2015," he added.
There were angry protests in the Bangladesh capital Dhaka. In the Dhaka University area, an effigy was seen burning with protesters chanting the names of the two on-field umpires. Protest processions were also brought out in some parts of Dhaka, according to television reports.
However, Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) secretary Anurag Thakur countered Kamal's statements and asserted that India won on their own strength. "He has raised some issues, he has the right to do so but if anyone has any complaints he should use the correct platform. He is the ICC president and I wish he would have blurted out these things in the ICC which would have been more appropriate. Bangladesh lost by more than 100 runs, it was a significant encounter but they lost it, so they can be angry and sad, but India won on their own strength and they are ready for the games to come," concluded Thakur.
The biggest controversy of the match erupted in the 40th over of the Indian innings as opener Rohit Sharma was held in the deep off a Rubel Hossain high full toss. The umpires called it a no-ball citing it was over waist high, but television replays showed it was not. Rohit went on to punish Bangladesh, scoring 47 more runs to end at 137.