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Team-mates deny Kambli allegation

ESPNcricinfo staff

November 18, 2011

Comments: 30 | Text size: A | A

A controversy has arisen over a statement made by Vinod Kambli, the former India batsman, that he "doubted" crucial decisions made during the 1996 World Cup semi-final between India and Sri Lanka in Kolkata. Several of Kambli's team-mates in that match, including captain Mohammed Azharuddin, and the team manager Ajit Wadekar, have denied the allegations.

Kambli said, in an emotional interview with television channel Star News in India on Thursday, that he "doubted" the semi-final. He said the team had decided at its pre-match meeting to bat first if India won the toss and he had noticed that opener Navjot Sidhu had padded up before the toss, as was his habit, indicating that if India won the toss, he would be batting first.

Kambli then said he was surprised when India decided to field first. The semi-final was abandoned following crowd trouble after India, chasing 252, were 120 for 8 - they were 98 for 1 at one stage - with Kambli unbeaten on 10. Kambli said in the interview that he would never forget the match because his career had ended after that game. "This ended my career. I was dropped from the team, I was made the scapegoat," he said. Kambli was not available for comment following his TV interview.

Saba Karim, the former India wicketkeeper who also appeared on the programme, told ESPNcricinfo that he had reminded Kambli that his career did not end then. "I said to him, Vinod, you played for India after that, we played together in Canada." After the World Cup semi-final on March 13, 1996, Kambli played 35 ODIs for India.

Azharuddin, appearing on CNN-IBN, sought to dismiss Kambli's allegations. "Absolutely rubbish. [He] doesn't know what he is talking about." Azharuddin said a "team decision" to field first was made at a meeting where, "Everyone was there, including the manager. Kambli must have been sleeping during the team meeting." He said that after a discussion India had decided to field first. He conceded there were different points of view at the meeting but said the final decision was taken collectively.

Azharuddin was handed a life ban by the BCCI in 2000 after a federal inquiry found him guilty of match-fixing. He denied the charges and is awaiting judgement on a suit filed by him.

After the Indian sports minister Ajay Maken called for an investigation into Kambli's claims, BCCI vice-president Rajeev Shukla denied any further action was needed. "The BCCI had decided to ban Azhar on the basis of CBI report and there are no new circumstances to review the decision."

Sharad Pawar, the ICC president, also rejected the claims. "Kambli's allegations are not logical. If he had concentrated on his game, we might have got another Sachin Tendulkar."

Sanjay Manjrekar, another member of that team, also sought to dismiss the allegation on Twitter. "1996 world cup semi-final - The decision to field first may have turned out to be a wrong decision but it was an honest cricketing decision."

Ajit Wadekar, who also spoke to Kambli on Star News on Thursday night, said the decision to field first had been based on the Sri Lankan team's excellent record at chasing scores at the World Cup. "The entire team felt that the Sri Lanka players were good chasers. Hence, the team felt that if India fielded first, Sri Lanka could be easily defeated. In the team meeting before the match it was decided that India would field in the event of winning the toss. The decision was taken after consultation with the entire team."

Former national selector Venkatapathy Raju, who also played that match, said that in the meeting Navjot Sidhu was the only person who believed they should have been batting first because the wicket was dry. Raju, speaking to Star News, called it "surprising" that Kambli was claiming this after 15 years.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (November 21, 2011, 4:14 GMT)

this is an important piece of article.....on a very important issue which was in headlines lately....then why is this article way down the pecking order??? and no updates on it regarding the statement of indian sports minister that it will inquire the issue?????

Posted by njr1330 on (November 20, 2011, 13:25 GMT)

If you look at the scorecard for that match, the first 3 SL batsmen scored 1,0 and 1. At that stage, fielding first must have looked like a good idea!

Posted by Devapriya on (November 20, 2011, 13:05 GMT)

Well, the decision looked like the correct one after the first over - when both explosive openers were dismissed for ducks! Whatever the dryness of the wicket one has to admit Sri Lanka played smarter cricket on the day and anyway were detined to win the world cup.

Posted by   on (November 20, 2011, 12:22 GMT)

still remember that match.Sri lanka thrashed us chasing a reasonable score in Delhi during qualifying rounds.We were sure that India will not bat first in the semis.Azhar was not a gutsy captain.He had made a similar error in lords test in early 90s,Sending in England and Goochie hit a triple hundred in a match we evantually lost.Many times I wondered how Azhar was made captain in the first place.His batting was imperious though.

Posted by shivendash on (November 19, 2011, 21:58 GMT)

Kambli was a test batsman and when he meant that HE DIDN'T play another match, he meant 'Test matches". He played 35 odis though till sachin was captain.

Posted by M_Khan on (November 19, 2011, 17:06 GMT)

What article did not describe is the circumstances in which the decision to bat first was taken. I was also in favor of batting first, BUT only reluctantly. Lankans were simply demolishing any target set to them, then why a thought of batting first? The Calcutta pitch at that time and conditions during night. The dry pitch gets worse and more than the ball starts drifting a lot during night. It doesnt happen immediately but slowly in the second innings. Thats the reason why Tendulkar and to some extent Manjrekar were able to make some runs and even before they were dismissed, the writing was very much the walls, THEY JUST MANAGED TO SURVIVE LAST FEW OVERS and the required run rate almost touched 6. Jayasuriya looked as deadly as Kumble on a dust bowl. In the mayhem that followed, Kambli survived only coz thats what he was trying to do!

Posted by ElPhenomeno on (November 19, 2011, 17:03 GMT)

We will never know what truly happened. If BCCI had enough evidence to ban Azhar who was the captain all those years then who knows what was going on all that time. I saw and remember that match like it was yesterday. Sachin was there and playing well and as soon as he got out it was almost a comedy of errors that saw indian team fall apart. It was also well known that wicket was going to favour the team batting first. There are a lot of things that look funny but you don't question because you kind of assume and believe that everyone is giving it their all. We tend to believe sportsmen, that as a fan is almost always my default belief. Sad as it maybe, I question a lot of things I see nowadays.

Posted by stormy16 on (November 19, 2011, 16:47 GMT)

This is absurd! There is no way in the wide anyone would do anything but try to win a WC semi final least of all India at home in cricket!!

Posted by Bilal_Choudry on (November 19, 2011, 16:20 GMT)

this requires inquiry at least other wise it is just going to be played out in public which is not good ... the fact is that 3 members of this indian squad were later found to be involved in fixing ... now that this has come out in the open it has to be investigated

Posted by   on (November 19, 2011, 14:48 GMT)

seriously who actually cares about this now!!!! we're world champs now! lol

Posted by Saksham197 on (November 19, 2011, 10:48 GMT)

@kosala79..nice one! Venkatapathy Raju never played the concerned game!

Posted by   on (November 19, 2011, 9:00 GMT)

What a player Azhar was A true legend...he deserves to get his honor back..We will always respect u Mohammad Azharuddin

Posted by   on (November 19, 2011, 8:38 GMT)

can someone tell me how can we prove something that happened 15 yearms ago how can u please tell MR kambli did he sleep on 14 march 1996 and woke up on 17 november 2011 he may be true but its too late

Posted by kosala79 on (November 19, 2011, 7:08 GMT)

"Former national selector Venkatapathy Raju, who also played that match" Did he play that match????? Please check the records....

Posted by tanstell87 on (November 19, 2011, 6:56 GMT)

I guess Kambli knows something that many of us dont....but why is he speaking up now...he could have opened up in 2000....if Kambli had a proper test career he would have been one of fab four...but he wasted his talent...Virat Kohli reminds me of Vinod Kambli...irony being both's name start with V & K....

Posted by   on (November 19, 2011, 6:41 GMT)

Whatever said about things related to toss, performance wise no body except Tendulkar and Srinath flared well on the match.This match is a typical example of a one-man-show and reminds us how how quickly the inning could fold in the past once Tendulkar was gone. And in spite of Srinath giving vital three breakthroughs in quick succession, the middle over of Sri-Lanka was able to reconsolidate the innings while the Indian middle order looked hapless even Tendulkar delivered. He was also the most economical bowler taking two wickets. People who disapproves of Sachin's performance on important events could simply take this one as example to rectify themselves. It was also surprising to see Srinath who was superb in the opening spell not finish off all his quota of 10 overs. This sort of thing also goes on to reflect that thought process of the captains was not quite as expedient as it has been now. Barring Tendulkar and Dravid, the batting was so fragile and could colllapse dramatically.

Posted by sachin_vvsfan on (November 19, 2011, 6:36 GMT)

In addition to previous comment . Also add to the fact that srinath bowled only 7 overs (took first 3 wickets in first spell) and he was taken off the bowling and why was jadeja allowed to bowl 5 overs for 31runs with out letting srinath complete his full qouta? I do not think he was injured. Worse he was sent a head of jadeja , mongia while chasing. Pintch hitting didn't make sense at that stage (when indian were down 5 wickets they needed some stability) And not surprisingly azhar and jadeja got out for 0.

I rest my case

Posted by cricinme on (November 19, 2011, 6:31 GMT)

This guy is gone insane. He was asleep for 15 years and just now woke up or is it that he want to remind all what a remarkable innings he played to save that match. I dont believe a word of his.

Posted by   on (November 19, 2011, 6:02 GMT)

Means Sidhu and Kambli were the only two persons who knew whats the best chance for team India in a day-night match ! Definetily for me it was a shock that India send Sri Lanka for bat first :(

Posted by Ray24 on (November 19, 2011, 5:19 GMT)

Is this the only game he is questioning or were / are there others? As far as I remember, India lost when they panicked even though they were cruising at 90 odd for one. Further, Calcutta wicket doesn't favor the batsmen batting second. Why would Kambli come out after all these years?

Posted by lananad on (November 19, 2011, 4:16 GMT)

Check his last ODI. Indians were massacured by Jayasuriya and were bowld out for 54 runs.I dont think he or any Indian wants to remember that...Lol...

Posted by   on (November 19, 2011, 3:26 GMT)

I was at the ground and it was a sad day to bow out of the World Cup in that fashion. Yet I am certain no one figured match fixing to be part of the plot.

Posted by   on (November 19, 2011, 3:03 GMT)

Kambli was better than Tendular, so he was pretty special and it seems a bit extraordinary that he is treated so ordinarily, so don't dismiss him so frivilously. There's only room for one wonder at a time, which is probably why he was treated so badly. I remember him very well at the time and felt so much for the young man, and yes he was young under 17 that's for sure. It's a little like the VVS story too, he was also special all the time, and amazingly he always seems to be playing for his spot. Unbelievable!!!, how many games does he have to win to get any real recognition. Makes one wonder why it took him so long to make it consisitently doesn't it? He used to get Mountains of runs in the Ranjiv Trophey, and who did we see getting a go, types like Yuvray and Kaif who have about 40% of the talent of VVS and Kambli. Something musn't have fitted must it! Ganguly was pretty good and Dravid is too, but in ability Kambi and VVS are so superior it's not even worth discussing.

Posted by Srijoym on (November 18, 2011, 20:08 GMT)

I believe you mean March 13, 1996?

Posted by ariez on (November 18, 2011, 20:06 GMT)

'After the World Cup semi-final on March 13, 1966, Kambli played 35 ODIs for India.'

So we had a cricket world cup in 1966? And Kambli played in that semifinal? Looks pretty young, doesn't he?

On a side-note, I still clearly remember him with tears in his eyes at the end. Poor chap.

p.s. India didn't lose because of match-fixing. They lost cuz some 130 million people from across the border were all praying for a Srilanka win after that horrible quarterfinal loss they suffered.

Posted by   on (November 18, 2011, 19:58 GMT)

I wonder how do they remember all those discussions they had 15 years before?? I was expecting more replies like they cant remember etc.. Looks like they are coming up with made up reasons now... this makes me to think...

Posted by   on (November 18, 2011, 19:52 GMT)

Saba Karim, the former India wicketkeeper who also appeared on the programme, told ESPNcricinfo that he had reminded Kambli that his career did not end then. "I said to him, Vinod, you played for India after that, we played together in Canada." After the World Cup semi-final on March 13, 1966, Kambli played 35 ODIs for India.

I think it should be 1996 instead of 1966 as mentioned in this article. Please correct this.

Posted by TusharBhatia on (November 18, 2011, 19:43 GMT)

"After the World Cup semi-final on March 13, 1966" really?? i thought world cups started in 1975 :)

Posted by   on (November 18, 2011, 19:18 GMT)

i didn't knw much about that match as i'm only 5 yrs old that time....but as far as this article is concerned,in 4th para there is a mistake i.e. " After the World Cup semi-final on March 13, 1966, Kambli played 35 ODIs for India"... its not 1966,its 1996...

Posted by   on (November 18, 2011, 18:53 GMT)

In support of fielding first.. Sri Lanka had earlier chased a good target against India successfully in the league stages with ease.. Kambli jus needs publicity.. If not for this.. we would have never spoken about him now.. A great example for talent sans attitude..

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