'Sorry for my team' - Akbar Ali apologises for bitter end to final
Bangladesh captain Akbar Ali has expressed his disapproval of the unfortunate episode involving players from his team and the Indian side exchanging words and near-blows in the aftermath of the Under-19 World Cup final.
The euphoric atmosphere surrounding Bangladesh's maiden world title was drowned in the rancour shown by teenaged players having a go at each other.
The incident, currently under investigation by the ICC, saw a lot of shoving and pushing with staff members and match officials having to restrain the provocateurs from engaging in a physical altercation.
These actions were a culmination of the heightened emotions witnessed during key moments of the game with both parties harbouring animosity.
“I’ll say what happened, it should not be happening. I don’t know what exactly happened, haven’t asked yet what was going on," Akbar said at the post-match press conference.
The wicketkeeper-batsman fronted Bangladesh's successful run-chase in tough circumstances in the grand final. The maturity he showed amidst his calm stay at the crease also manifested itself in the media interaction as he apologised for aggressive celebrations.
"In the final, emotions can come out and sometimes the boys are getting pumped. I think the emotions were coming through.
"I will say as a youngster, it should not be happening in any position. In any manner, we should be showing respect to the opposition and the game because cricket is known as a gentleman’s game. So, I’ll be sorry for my team.”
India-Bangladesh contests have acquired an aspect of frothing rivalry over the past few years and this notion, most visible in clashes between the senior teams, trickles down to the Under-19 level as well.
Akbar noted there was thus an element of exacting revenge on their familiar foes in the World Cup final given their five-run loss to India a few months ago at the Asia Cup.
“I’ll say India-Bangladesh rivalry brings the spark. Before the World Cup final, we lost the Asia Cup final to them a couple of months ago. So, I think the boys are really pumped up and thinking of taking revenge but I will not say it should be happening. I’m sorry from my side," he said.
Apart from the controversial end to the final, there was constant sledging amongst the neighbouring rivals in the match.
Bangladesh pacer Tanzim Hasan Sakib kick-started this trend with a throw in his follow-through that narrowly missed the head of Indian opener Divyaansh Saxena. The two then directed offensive words at each other requiring the interference of the on-field umpires. Moreover, send-offs became the norm after the dismissal of every batsman.
India skipper Priyam Garg felt Bangladesh players' exaggerated reactions were unsavoury and regretted the occurrence.
“We were easy. We know it’s part and parcel of the game, you win or lose a game. But their reaction was bad, that shouldn’t have happened in my opinion but it’s okay," he stated.