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Day 7: Thu 29 October
CricInfo multimedia manager Rohan Chandran gives
"I the Jury, find the defendant guilty as charged." At least, I would, if I was asked, for I reckon Iíve got conclusive proof that Salim Malik is involved in match-fixing. Iím not just saying this to incite, so please hear me out before forming your own judgement.
When the Pakistan team walked out to take the field this morning, there were only ten of them. As they loosened up and made their way to the centre, a figure in a white cap came racing out of the dressing room to join them. It turned out to be Malik. Last minute phone calls to a bookie anyone ?
Just the first piece of the puzzle, an intricate jigsaw which was added to when he was dismissed by Binary Arthurton when attempting an absolutely horrific reverse sweep to a straight ball on middle and leg. However, the pivotal moment came early in the West Indian innings, whilst Aamer Sohail was keeping wicket in the absence of the injured Moin Khan. It was an act of which The Twelfth Man himself would have been proud.
When Azhar Mahmood trapped Nureyev (Stuart Williams) leg before, Malik took it upon himself to congratulate Aamer Sohail, despite the fact that Sohail had played no part in the dismissal. Pretending to high-five him, Malik completely duped his captain, and simply stabbed him in the eye with his fingers. Unfortunately, he didnít quite do it right, and after several minutes of treatment, Sohail was able to continue, but the dastardly deed was caught by the TV cameras.
I leave the rest to you, my readers, but I think the conclusions are inescapable myself.
Whilst the Pakistanis were busy injuring themselves, and one another (often with some help from a West Indian batsman), the men in maroon were having their own problems. Believe it or not, the West Indian squad of 14 players turned up to the Wills International Cup with a grand total of two pairs of pads between them. Making matters worse, it seems one of the pairs belonged to Stuart Williams - the one man who was likely to be out before he had need to use them.
That they only realised this the night before their match perhaps says something about the Caribbean character and approach. Wheels were set into motion all over Bangladesh, but a serious problem soon emerged. Several members of the West Indian side required extra-long pads, and those were not exactly readily available in Dhaka. In the end, arrangements were made to fly the pads in from Dubai on the red- eye. They arrived at the stadium just a half an hour before the scheduled start of play, and it wasnít too hard to spot the new pairs of pads out on the field - they were the wrong shade of red, with white streaks showing through in patches where the hurried paint job hadnít quite worked out.
All the gossip aside, no edition of this diary would be complete without a dig at one or two of my colleagues. I could have a go at Alex for his efforts to make our live match reports as un-live (sic) as possible, but I promised him I wouldnít today, so Iíll turn my attention to Travis instead.
Travis is one of our more regular scorers/commentators, and his creative talents generally result in a deluge of abusive emails to the CricInfo help desk. Heís been accused of everything from being a Pakistani hating Indian (today), to, horror of horrors for him, a whingeing Pom. However, what I learned today, was that for all his colourful vitriol directed towards the players, the poor sap doesnít know extra cover from mid- wicket. Put a right and left hander together at the crease, and then it really falls to pieces.
Of course, the highlight of Travs day was Arthurtonís dismissal of Malik. In fact, it moved him so much that he exclaimed in his commentary that he would love to bear the binary child. That in itself was unremarkable, but unfortunately for Travis, the word seemed to spread like wildfire. When we left the ground some time after midnight, our driver had called it a day (quite understandably), and Alex and Travis wound up returning to the hotel in a cycle rickshaw. Despite almost killing the poor chap at the wheel, they made it home in one piece some time later. Not, however, before Travis had been propositioned by some gender-undetermined people of the night. He claims not to have accepted, but if you ask me, even a cycle rickshaw doesnít take 2 hours to drive from the stadium to our hotel. Enough said. And on that note, itís goodnight once again. I shall brush my teeth before going to bed tonight, but unfortunately, I wonít be able to use the official toothpaste of the Bangladesh national team. Iím not going to pass judgement on it either, until Iíve met the players myself.
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Rohan Chandran is CricInfo's Multimedia Manager and is on site in Dhaka with four other CricInfo management for the duration of the tournament