Thursday, November 24, 2011

Vinod Kambli’s allegations – Now is the time to speak out

As any cricket follower in the country would have been aware by now, Vinod Kambli has made some serious claims about the 1996 World Cup semi-finals. He claims that captain Mohammed Azharuddin went against the team’s collective decision of batting first and chose to field instead. The match was later to be abandoned due to crowd trouble in India’s innings and a crying Vinod Kambli leaving the field.
Any match-fixing claim has to be taken very seriously. These things have happened. Players have been banned, fined and now even jailed for such crimes. But its also very easy to make allegations about past events, where only the word of one person against the other stands.
In this case the credibility of the allegations is a bit low. The events happened 15 years ago. Given Vinod Kambli’s recent antics, his trust level is pretty low. He was a case of talent truly wasted as a player. Thrown out of team on disciplinary grounds, making controversial TV apppearances (Sach Ka Saamna & Bigg Boss), announcing his retirement from cricket some 7-8 years after being dropped him from the Mumbai Ranji team, Going on proclaiming his friendship with Sachin Tendulkar on all possible forums. Sounds like a person who is despearate to be in news always.
Here the allegations have been made against a former India captain who is under a life ban from cricket for match-fixing based on evidence collected by CBI. So Azhar provides an easy target for such allegations.
If I remember correctly, all the analysts during the World Cup had agreed that Sri Lankans were very good at chasing down targets Performances against India, England certainly justify this claim. Even in the final they chose to chase against Australia knowing fully well that all the previous winners had batted first in the finals. So putting Sri Lanka into bat first seemed a logical decision. There was also talk of using a spinner to counter the marauding Sri Lankan openers in the inital overs. So Kumble opened the bowling with Srinath. Then there was the evening dew factor. Taking these factors into account bowling first does seem to be a logical decision. The one error was misreading the pitch. The pitch had become an unknown quantity due to opening ceremony fiasco. Given all these factors Azhar would have been roasted if he had decided to bat first.
Now coming to Kambli’s remarks. He says Navjot Sidhu was all padded up to open. The toss hadn’t been held till then. What if Rantunga had won the toss. Then there are claims of this being his last game when the truth is he played on and off for another 4 years. Also the timing of the allegations make no sense. He could have come out in the open then or when the match-fixing scandal came up in 2000. Why did he keep silent all these years?
Is there any truth in Kambli’s allegations? I don’t know. The only people who can answer are the other members of the 1996 campaign. So far the manager Ajit Wadekar, and other players like Sanjay Manjrekar, Nayan Mongia and Venkatpathy Raju and Azhar himself have already rubbished Kambli’s claims. But it is very important that the other players like Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble, Javagal Srinath et al, whose credibility cannot be questioned speak out. This is certainly not a time of maintianing a dignified silence. Its time to come out in the open and speak out. You owe this to the Indian fan.
Nishant Kumar for DieHard Cricket Fans
Follow Nishant on Twitter @NishantSKumar

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