Former India captain Mohammad Azharuddin has 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 showed 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 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 allegations.”
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 said.
“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.
“I'll never forget the match because my career ended after it. I was stunned by the decision to field,” said Kambli.