What he said:
"What Vinod is saying is absolutely rubbish! He must have been sleeping in the team meeting."
Former India skipper, Mohammad Azharuddin, rubbishes teammate Vinod Kambli’s allegations that the 1996 World Cup semifinal against Sri Lanka was fixed.
The match was forfeited by the home side due to crowd violence; the Indians were on the verge of a humiliating defeat.
Speaking to Star News, Kambli said:
I’ll never forget the match because my career ended after it. I was stunned by the decision to field.I was standing on one side and on the other end my fellow batsman was telling me that we would chase the target. However, soon after they quickly got out one by one. I don’t know what transpired.
Something was definitely amiss. However, I was not given a chance to speak and was dropped soon after. Our team manager at that time, Wadekar, was aware of everything.
Ajit Wadekar, the then team manager, contested Kambli’s version of transpired events, saying:
I did not even think there was anything suspicious in that loss. It was purely because we misread the wicket and were slightly overconfident after beating Pakistan in the quarterfinal.
Why did he wake up suddenly after 15 years? During my four-and-half year stint (with the national team), I used to frequently have dinner with Vinod. Had he told me about his suspicions then, I would have requested the board to probe the matter.
“During the team meeting, only (Navjot Singh) Sidhu and I felt the wicket would deteriorate and that we should bat first. However, a majority of the bunch felt a wicket couldn’t deteriorate much.”
Mohammad Azharuddin, speaking to CNN-IBN, defendedhis decision to bowl first:
We decided to field. It was discussed and a team decision. It was a collective decision. I don’t have any regrets, no reason to shy away from this. What Vinod is saying is absolutely rubbish! He must have been sleeping in the team meeting.
We wanted to field first and chase against Sri Lanka, wanted to do something different in the match. Very sad that people are questioning the decision. For Kambli to talk like this, it shows his class (pedigree).
Vinod Kambli on so many occasions has said that I was the best captain he has played under. It’s very annoying the way the statement was made.
The former India skipper’s fight against the life-ban handed out by the BCCI in 2000 continues in the Hyderabad high court. Azhar’s cricketing career was cut short at 99 Test matches.
"The match-fixing case is going on in the High Court. When my name is cleared, everybody will come to know the truth. I am not affected by the allegations. Kambli has made a fool of himself.”
What Azharuddin really meant:
“By way of explanation, we enjoyed a cosy dressing room atmosphere.”
What Azharuddin definitely didn’t:
“What kind of query is that? Sleepwalking through our innings?”