Exactly 12 years after his fall from grace following his life ban by the Indian board over match-fixing charges, former skipper Mohammad Azharuddin was given a reprieve by the Andhra Pradesh High Court which quashed the decision, terming it "unsustainable".
Azharuddin was easily one of
the most popular and stylish cricketers from India, but was seen as the biggest culprit after the match-fixing rocked cricket in 2000, making the Bodyline series and ball-tampering look like child's play.
On Thursday, however, the Andhra Pradesh High Court, while setting aside a lower court order upholding the ban slapping by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), termed the decision "illegal". The lawyers of Azhar, 49, the Lok Sabha MP from Moradabad, had argued that the ban was imposed despite the absence of evidence.
The division bench accepted the contention by Azhar's counsel that there was no evidence that the former skipper had succumbed to any pressure as a player.
Relief was palpable in Azhar's face on Thursday as he addressed a hurriedly convened press conference at his residence in the capital.
No legal action
"It was a long drawn out legal case and it was painful," he said. "We fought in the court for 11 years. There were lots of adjournments, changes. But finally the verdict has come and I am happy that the ban has been lifted by the court.
Asked if he would take any legal action against the BCCI, he said, "I'm not going to take any legal action against any authority and I also don't want to blame anybody for this. It is about destiny and whatever had to happen has happened. I don't have any complaint."
He said: "My conscience was clear and I was not happy with the ban. But I am a person who takes things positively. I am happy now and want to move on," he said.
But Azhar refused to talk about Hansie Cronje.
"Hansie Cronje is no more and it is not right to talk about it now."
He said he would be happy to give back to the game. "I want to share the experience I have gained in my career to a youngster," he said.
Senior BCCI official Rajeev Shukla said they would not react until their legal team looks at the court judgement.
"Our legal team will analyse the judgement. Then only we will react," Shukla said.