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The UP-side of fixing saga in domestic circuit

cricket Updated: May 17, 2012 23:42 IST
Sharad Deep
Sharad Deep
Hindustan Times
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The recent TV sting operation, exposing illegal trading and fixing in domestic cricket, may have created sudden ripples. However, the menace of fixing is not new to domestic cricket.

While the BCCI may have pumped in a lot of money into Ranji Trophy and other domestic cricket, the expose shows that it has failed to curb the bigger problem of fixing.

Match-fixing has been prevalent in Uttar Pradesh cricket since the early 90s and several cricketers, including Yusuf Ali Khan, were allegedly found guilty.

Despite the Railways not selecting Yusuf after he was associated with fixing, the Uttar Pradesh Cricket Association (UPCA) paid little heed to the problem, allowing it to become a routine affair in the years to come.

In a Ranji league match against Madhya Pradesh in the 1993-94 season, Railways, led by Yusuf, gained a first-innings lead of 15 runs but then played poorly to lose by three wickets in Gwalior. The victory fetched MP the much-needed six points and a place in knockout round.

Yusuf scored 61 in the first innings and 55 in the second, yet was held responsible for orchestrating Railways' defeat in exchange for financial gains.

Thus ended a 13-year career in which he played 64 matches and scored 4531 runs at an average of 49.79.

"That incident still hurts me as I lost a lot because of the controversy. Had I an inkling about the match being fixed, I would have gone all out to avert it," Yusuf (46) told HT.

Another case
Match-fixing raised its head in another Ranji match in the 1994-95 season when Rahul Sapru and Rajiv Rathore, the skippers of UP and Rajasthan respectively, allegedly worked together to fix the match.

The one-day encounter on Dec 19, 1994 was won by Rajasthan by five wickets at Udaipur, despite UP scoring 235/8 in 50 overs. In the four-day match (Dec 20-23, 1994), Rajasthan lost to the visitors by 145 runs.

"The issue was discussed by the UPCA, but was hushed up," said Neeru Kapoor, ex-chairman of the UP Ranji selection panel.

"Fixing was a routine affair in the early 90s as, at that time, there was no law against it and the media too was indifferent.

Kapoor confessed to having been a witness to a 'fixed match' in an all-India level tournament at Gorakhpur in 1992.

Two teams from Delhi allegedly 'shared' points to push Kanpur's State Bank of India out of contention.

Ashok Bambi, former Central Zone captain, too accepted that fixing was rife.

"There was no provision of taking action against the cricketers and most state bodies worked in collusion."

Perhaps, now is the time for the BCCI and its affiliate state associations to stem the rot, but only if they have the inclination.