NEW DELHI (Reuters) - International Cricket Council (ICC) President Sharad Pawar on Saturday joined the Indian cricket board (BCCI) in dismissing former player Vinod Kambli’s claims of possible corruption in India’s 1996 World Cup semi-final loss to Sri Lanka.
A teary-eyed Kambli recently told a television channel he had doubts about some of the decisions, including opting to bat first, taken in the Kolkata match, which Sri Lanka won by default following crowd trouble at Eden Gardens.
Chasing 252 for victory, India suffered a batting collapse and slumped to 120-8 when a violent crowd stopped the game and Kambli left the ground sobbing.
Pawar had his doubts about the allegations made by a former cricketer known for his headline-grabbing penchant.
“If he is honest and committed cricketer, he should have informed all. Even if he knew something, he kept quiet,” Pawar told Indian media.
“I honestly feel his allegations are an irresponsible statement. I would rather go by what (former India captains) Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar or Ajit Wadekar say.
“Had he (Kambli) focussed more on his game, he could have been an asset for the team, just like (contemporary Sachin) Tendulkar,” Pawar added.
Kambli hit two double-centuries and two single ones in his first seven tests before his career stuttered, primarily because of his lack of focus.
BCCI also joined some of Kambli’s former team mates, including then captain Mohammad Azharuddin, in ruling out any wrongdoing in the match.
“I don’t think we need to attach any importance to someone who wakes up 15 years after the incident to make these allegations,” BCCI vice president Rajeev Shukla told reporters.
Sports Minister Ajay Maken, however, called for a probe into the allegations.
“When a player of the team has made a charge, it should be thoroughly investigated,” Maken told reporters.
“It should be properly investigated and if something wrong has happened then the culprits should be punished.”
Former Pakistan captain Salman Butt and pace bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir were jailed this month for taking bribes to fix incidents in last year’s Lord’s test.
Editing by Alastair Himmer