India’s controversial decision not to enforce the follow-on in the 1999 Ahmedabad Test against New Zealand is among the big mysteries in Indian cricket. But as far as the BCCI’s Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) is concerned, it is an open and shut case.
It is being used as educational reference, as one where illegal bookies knew in advance that India would not enforce the follow-on. This has been revealed in documentary evidence accessed by HT. Sachin Tendulkar was the captain of the side and Kapil Dev the coach.
Last September, ACSU director Ravi Sawani and its assistant anti-corruption manager, Anshuman Upadhyay, conducted an anti-corruption education seminar for first class, club level and age group players at the Delhi District Cricket Association (DDCA) complex.
Upadhyay, a former central security officer, told the gathering of Ranji players and budding cricketers: “You know, match-fixing started much before 2000 (when the scandal broke). There was a match held in Ahmedabad where India were playing against some foreign side. India were in a very strong position and it was expected that they would enforce the follow-on. The entire nation was expecting that the next day.”
What he then said with a straight face stunned those present in the hall. “That did not happen,” he said.
“But bookies sitting in Delhi and Mumbai knew that the follow-on would not be given. Later, the BCCI asked the captain why he did not enforce the follow-on. The captain refused to answer and said ‘ask the coach’. The coach said, ‘don’t ask me, ask the team as it was a collective decision’.”
However, when HT asked Upadhyay if he made such references in that seminar, he denied saying only Sawani was authorised to speak to the media.
In the Test which eventually ended in a draw, India piled up 583 in the first innings and New Zealand scored 308 in reply. India, despite a lead of 275, did not ask the Kiwis to bat again.
Former CBI joint director, K Madhavan, the then BCCI vigilance commissioner, examined the statements of Tendulkar, Kapil and team manager Ajit Wadekar and found nothing suspicious.
Parveen Kumar Soni, the seminar coordinator, told HT. “It was a learning experience for all youngsters plus senior players because players were not aware how this fixing thing happens. ASCU officers had given a lot of examples and taught the players how to conduct themselves.”
A junior player who attended the session told Hindustan Times: “During the lecture, I was not shocked at what Upadhyay said. But when I came back and checked that Test on the website, I found Sachin was the captain and Kapil paaji the coach. That was when I realised why they are talking about that match.”