Friday, November 18, 2011

Kambli Vs Azharuddin - whom should you trust?

Vinod Kambli has claimed that India's 1996 World Cup Semi-final with Sri Lanka might have been fixed, and Azharuddin is at the forefront in rubbishing his claims. One does not know about this specific match, but existence of match fixing and the association of the underworld with cricketers, especially in the 90s is well known. Dawood Ibrahim was a regular at cricket matches in Dubai. Sharad Shetty, D-company’s financial advisor was his key link with international cricket betting syndicates, and advised Dawood on cricket betting. Ashraf Patel, businessman and a close friend of Azharuddin was shot dead by Chhota Rajan’s men in April 2000 for his alleged links with Dawood Ibrahim’s gang. To read a very interesting report on the subject, click  here.

It was also believed at that time that Patel's murder was related to the sensational match fixing allegations made by South Africa’s Hansie Cronje, against which the Delhi Police had registered a case. Azharuddin was questioned by the Mumbai Police after Patel’s murder.

The CBI investigated the match fixing allegations. The full text of the CBI report on match fixing and betting syndicates is available here, but I quote from one of the paragraphs:

“……….Azharuddin was paid a sum of Rs 50 lakhs as an advance with the arrangement that the initial amount would be adjusted against the matches he would 'do' for MK. Azharuddin promised MK that he would provide the exact information as to when India would win or lose. He does not remember the exact number of matches which Azhar 'did' for him during this period………….”

Azharuddin’s cricket career ended when BCCI banned him for life for match fixing.

But public memory is short. In 2009, Azharuddin joined the Congress and won the Lok Sabha election. And today, we have to take sides - Kambli or Azharuddin.

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