Wasim Akram, a former captain of Pakistan, is considered one of the game’s all-time best fast bowlers. However, his career had not been without controversy; in 1996, Akram’s absence from the World Cup quarterfinal match against India aroused several rumors. Due to an injury, the previous captain of Pakistan withdrew from the match fifteen minutes before the toss. The absence of Akram, the team’s captain at the time, caused such a commotion that 26 years after the competition, he is still questioned about it.

When a fan’s inquiry irked the Pakistani star last month, Akram addressed the rumors surrounding his absence in a fairly irate manner. “I had an injury when playing New Zealand. I scored 34 runs. I attempted a sweep shot, but the fine leg was up, and I strained a muscle. This takes six weeks (to recover). Akram had said, “The reason we didn’t notify the press was that India would have gained confidence if they knew I wasn’t playing,” adding, “India ko confidence naa mile ki inka main player nahi khel raha.”

He added the word “embarrassing” to describe the whole situation.

Akram again discussed the matter in-depth in a conversation with ESPNCricinfo, insisting that he shouldn’t be held responsible for it as he didn’t even take part in the match. The former Pakistani great said that up until the 15th over of the innings, when the men in green gradually started to lose wickets, his team was in a winning position.

In a sense, there wasn’t much confidence when it came to cricket knowledge in the 1990s. You see, up until the 15th over of the second innings in the 1996 World Cup quarterfinal, 11 players were winning the match. They lost wickets unexpectedly, and I was held responsible. I’m still struggling with it. What were the 11 individuals doing there when they were 124/0 (113/2) in 15 overs and chasing 270-odd? Asked Akram.

“How did that story break? Who spewed the rumor? Reflect on it.

After the scandal, when asked whether he had considered retiring, Akram said that it had strengthened him.

“I have a stubborn nature. I’ll be sure to stand up if someone pushes me in the wrong direction. I didn’t want the game of cricket to end. Despite some people’s opposition, I wanted to play cricket for Pakistan. I was inspired to play cricket because of it,” said Akram.