Twitter explodes with memes and claims that Afghan cricket team had fixed the match — with some spurious 'evidence' held up as 'proof'
Yet, despite a strong lineup of spinners, the squad could not perform up to the mark and India turned out to be ruthless — scoring the highest total in the tournament so far.
The Indian openers played splendidly and handed Afghanistan a mammoth 211-run target. In response, the opposition could not even get close, as they made 144 for the loss of seven in 20 overs.
While fans in the stadium thoroughly rooted for their favourite sides to keep players' spirits high, a conspiracy started brewing on Twitter regarding the disappointing performance of the Afghan side.
The microblogging platform exploded with memes and claims that the Afghan cricket team had allegedly 'fixed' the match.
The fan-fuelled speculation did not stop there — an image emerged on social media suggesting that the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) had inadvertently thanked India for 'paying' well.
"Well paid India," an image of the tweet, seemingly posted by the ACB handle, said.
The image showed the account also responding to its tweet with "played*", as if to show that it was correctly an inadvertent typo in its earlier tweet.
Fans who were already enraged at Afghanistan for losing the match to India took this as a cue to vent their anger and demand action.
A trend, #WellPaidIndia, also topped the Twitter charts, with social media users jumping on to accuse the Afghan side of fixing the match.
As it turns out, the Afghanistan Cricket Board's actual account, whose handle on Twitter is "ACBofficials", never posted such a tweet.
It also seems that the ACB handle seen in the image does not exist.
Following their loss to India, the real Afghanistan Cricket Board had indeed tweeted, but they did not write anything about being "paid" well.
"Congratulations to BCCI on an allround display," the ACB had simply tweeted.
Twitter had also much to say about the match toss, where Afghan skipper Mohammad Nabi had first told Indian captain Virat Kohli that his side would bowl first before confirming it to the ICC official present.
Responding to social media accusations that this was 'proof' of coordinated behaviour, former international cricketers David Gower and Rashid Latif clarified that there was nothing unnatural about the exchange.
"To me, there's nothing to worry about," said Gower on PTV Sports. "These things can become serious very quickly if you let them. But I am not the only person with an opinion in this room, I know that," he added.
Similarly, Latif, a former Pakistan captain, said that when the toss takes place, one skipper usually tells the other what they want to do.
"So Nabi told Kohli 'we will bowl first'. However, later you have to say the same thing officially, so he repeated it [to the official]," the former skipper said.
There is "nothing [fishy] in all this," he stressed.