Pakistan's fallout from the World Cup April 10, 2007

Akmal shrugs aside claims of distractions

Cricinfo staff

Extraordinary preparation but less than ordinary performance - Kamran Akmal © AFP

Kamran Akmal, the Pakistan wicketkeeper, strongly denied reports that the team's over-indulgence in religious activities was the reason behind its early exit from the World Cup.

Speaking to reporters after recording his statements before the performance evaluation committee, Akmal rued his team's below-par performance in the first two matches inspite of what he claimed were extraordinary preparations.

"We were well prepared for the World Cup but sadly things turned bad to worse from the beginning for us in the mega event," he said.

"We followed routine activities (offering of prayers) and there is no truth that we set aside our cricket responsibilities while laying special emphasis on religious activities," he added with reference to recent remarks by PJ Mir, Pakistan's media manager during the trip, which suggested that the team had focused more on preaching than playing.

Akmal also rubbished match-fixing claims levied on Pakistan, denying any knowledge or involvement. "I have no idea why some of the senior cricketers are levelling such allegations," he said.

Intikhab Alam, former captain and coach of Pakistan, was also questioned at the committee hearing. He blamed the performance on poor team selection, a lack of discipline in the team and the players' fitness levels as the major causes behind the dismal performance.

"The team went into the World Cup without any plan and strategy and the results produced have let every body down," he said.

Shaharyar Khan, former chairman of the board, is to appear before the committee on Wednesday though he has yet to confirm whether or not he will appear. Sources privy to the committee told Cricinfo that he is likely to be asked some 'tough questions' about his tenure.

If he does appear, and it is not a foregone conclusion that he will, he will be asked why and how Inzamam-ul-Haq in particular developed so much influence and control over team matters while Shaharyar was in charge.

He is also likely to explain the administration's role in the doping crisis; though the ban and subsequent appeals of Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif for testing positive for Nandrolone occurred after Nasim Ashraf took over, the tests were organised and carried out under Shaharyar's tenure.