New Delhi: Former
India captain Mohammad Azharuddin Friday rubbished his ex-team
mate Vinod Kambli's allegations that the 1996 World Cup semi-final
against Sri Lanka at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata was fixed.
Azharuddin, now a Congress MP from Moradabad, said the decision to
chase was a collective decision and the team took the blame for
the loss against eventual champions Sri Lanka.
"In the team meeting it was decided that we would bowl if we win
the toss. In the last match (group stage) against Sri Lanka we
lost despite scoring 271 at the Ferozeshah Kotla. So we decided to
do something different at Eden Gardens and the decision was taken
unanimously at the team meeting. I think Kambli is just talking
rubbish and making these statements... he has shown his class. He
has betrayed the team," said Azharuddin, who was given a life-ban
by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) after being
found involved in the 2000 match-fixing case.
Asked whether the semi-final match was discussed when the Central
Bureau of Investigation (CBI) interrogated him on the match-fixing
case, Azharuddin said: "My case is still pending in the High Court
and I don't wish to comment on the case. When my name is cleared
everybody will come to know the truth... I am not affected by the
Azharuddin also said that he doesn't regret his decision to bowl
first in the semi-final despite winning the toss.
"I don't have any regrets and why should I? It was a collective
responsibility and the team took the blame for the loss. It is a
game of match, you win some you lose some," said Azharuddin.
Azharuddin also said that Kambli was wrong to say that he was made
a scapegoat after the match.
"Kambli was never made a scapegoat. He was dropped from the team
purely on the basis of his form. He was not disciplined and that
spoiled him. In fact he should be thankful for the cricket that he
has played. He has always maintained that I was the best captain
he has played under and now his statement is very annoying," he
"It would be unfair to say that Kambli never got his chance. He
was included in the team in 1998 but injured his ankle that
finished his career," said Azharuddin.
Kambli told a TV channel that he was stunned with India's decision
to bowl first. Kambli was viewing his comments on former
International Cricket Council (ICC) anti-corruption unit chief
Paul Condon's claim that many teams were monitored for fixing in
the late 1990s.
"I was stunned by India's decision to field. I'll never forget the
match because my career ended after it. I was stunned by the
decision to field," Kambli said. "I was standing on one side and
on the other end my fellow batsman was telling me that we would
chase the target," the channel quoted the retired player as
saying. "However, soon after they quickly got out one by one. I
don't know what transpired," Kambli had said.
Kambli also claimed that then team manager Ajit Wadekar, also a
former India captain, was aware of everything.
"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," he said.
Wadekar, however, rubbished Kambli's claims and said the game was
"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," he said.