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Azhar breaks silence
By AN Shibli 

Now the wait is over. Finally, former Indian cricket captain and one of the finest cricketers in world, Mohammad Azharuddin broke his silence and knocked the door of a local court in Hyderabad. In the petition Azharuddin challenged the life ban on him by the cricket board contending that appointment of former Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) joint director K Madhavan as inquiry commissioner was not in accordance with the board’s rule. 

Azhar has sought court’s intervention to allow him to play for the national team and to make him eligible for all retirement benefits. In a 17-page writ petition Azhar has accused the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) president AC Muthaiah as controversial and incompetent person having a grudge against him ever since he was appointed as Indian Captain. Azhar levelled serious charges against the cricket board on several counts and said the probe into match fixing was not carried out in transparent way. 

According to Azharuddin, ‘appointment of K Madhavan as the inquiry commissioner was illegal, arbitrary and was in violation of BCCI rules which do not contain provision to appoint outsiders for such a purpose. Madhavan does not know even the basics of cricket and he did not act independently while conducting the inquiry. His sole aim was to seek cheap publicity at the cost of self respect and prestige of players.’ 

Before filing the petition in Hydrebad Azhar gave an exclusive interview to weekly newsmagazine out look and asked the board to probe all the matter properly. Azhar said that ‘Mumbai players were not investigated properly.’ No body talks of the Rs 7 million found in Sunil Gawaskar’s Mumbai Gymkhana locker. What about Ravi Shastri’s Ali Bagh farm house and other costly properties? How did Vinod Kambli lose his money from a locker? Azharuddin asked. He further said ‘I was being targeted because people were jealous of my achievements. I had a successful career and have played for long’. 

Denying the allegations that he did not give his 100 percent under Sachin Tendulkar’s captaincy he said ‘this is completely untrue. Under his captaincy, I scored more runs than he had while he was captain. I find it difficult to understand why he made such a statement.’ 

As far as the above allegations by Sachin is concerned the board should take serious note on this. If Azhar did not perform properly under his (Sachin) captaincy why he did not complain to the coach of the team or the board. Why he kept silence. He should also be punished for this negligence. Azhar’s good knocks came under Tendulkar’s captaincy. 

As Azhar has filed a petition in court the match-fixing episode has taken a new turn. Every body is keen to know the result. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) defended its action against Azharuddin and said it would fight out the case filed by him. BCCI’s secretary Jaywant Lele and its president AC Muthaiah have denied all the allegations by Azhar. Muthaiah said he has no grudge against Azhar. Lele said ‘we will certainly discuss the issue raised by Azharuddin. 

Azhar has demanded a thorough probe into the 1999 Ahmedabad test between India and New Zeeland where the hosts (India) did not enforce the follow-on and the match ended into a draw. In that test India had scored 583, dismissed New Zealand for 308 and had taken a lead of 275. But surprisingly, against the expectations of cricket lovers, the then Indian captain did not enforce follow-on and instead decided to start their second innings. The match which could easily be a win for India ended in draw due to this decision. It is still a mystery why Tendulkar had taken this wrong decision. 

Pankaj Gupta, reporting cricket for about ten years, and associated with a leading Hindi daily told this writer, ‘the inquiry was not proper. Azhar, who has given his best to Indian cricket should not be penalized so stringently. We should not forget that under his captaincy, India recorded many major victories. He is the successful Indian captain.’

Former Pakistan off-spinner Tauseef Ahmad has said the punishment meted out to Indian players Azharuddin and Jadeja for their alleged involvement in match-fixing practices was unfair. Tauseef told the Khaleej Times that ‘I think the punishment handed down to Azharuddin and Jadeja is really unfair as the two could not have gone on and on to fix matches on their own.’ It is hard to believe that one or two players can change the outcome of the game.’

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