Fifteen years after a crying Vinod Kambli walked off the Eden Gardens when the World Cup semifinal against Sri Lanka was stopped due to crowd violence with India on the verge of defeat, the batsman has hinted the game could’ve been fixed.
The match was eventually abandoned and awarded to Lanka. “I was stunned by India’s decision to field,” Kambli told Star News during a debate on former ICC anti-corruption unit chief Paul Condon’s claim that many teams were monitored for fixing in the late 1990s.
Ajit Wadekar, who was the team manager then, said the game was clean. Indian skipper Mohammad Azharuddin surprisingly chose to bowl first. “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.”
“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.”
“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,” Wadekar told HT.
“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.”
Kambli, who watched the batsmen fall like ninepins, said it’s decided in the team meeting that India would bat first if they won the toss.
Wadekar said: “During the team meeting, only (Navjot Singh) Sidhu and I felt the wicket would deteriorate and that we should bat first. However, a majority of the bunch felt a wicket couldn't deteriorate much.
The BCCI secretary Sanjay Jagdale declined to respond to Kambli's allegations.