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Thursday, January 23, 2020

Azhar debuted as a sensational batsman - faded with match-fixing infamy

Australia top-order batsman Steve Smith has broken silence on India captain Virat Kohli's gesture during the 2019 World Cup in England and Wales last year. During the India-Australia World Cup clash, the 'Men in Blue' supporters tried to rile up Smith by mentioning the sandpaper scandal. However, the India captain egged the crowd on to support and not boo Smith soon after his return to international cricket from a one-year suspension for ball-tampering.  Smith finally spoke on the incident and said it was a nice gesture from the Indian skipper, which recently won Kohli International Cricket Council's (ICC) 'Spirit of Cricket Award'.  Steve Smith is back after International ban and is scoring runs in buckets.

In  Nov 1984, England toured India and played Indian Under 25  lead by Ravi Shastri in the tour opener at Ahmedabad.  Krish Srikkanth made a flamboyant 92;  the team lead by David Gower lost to the Juniors by an innings and 59 runs.  In the only innings that he got, a classy left hander from Chennai – Rangachari Madhavan who was hardly 24  remained unbeaten on 103 – though he did not bowl in that match, he was considered a good left arm orthodox spinner.  Laxman Sivaramakrishnan sprang to prominence and made a name against the visitors. Offie Gopal Sharma too bowled so well.  There was a berth in the middle order and this century did not earn him that.  That was to be taken by Mohammed Azharuddin  who also scored a century, got selected and went on to score 3 consecutive centuries in debut is all history.  Madhavan, whom I have heard to be a Chartered Accountant never could break the ranks thereafter, played in 39 first class matches and went for greener professional pastures, which denied him further cricketing opportunities.

Mohammad Azharuddin a lean fit athletic cricketer burst on to the international cricketing arena like a thunderbolt, scoring three back to back Test centuries in his first three Tests in the year 1985. Next year down under his stock rose more with the classy innings he played in WCC.  Becoming a great fielder and a backfoot batsman, he rose, becoming the Captain of India, leading the Nation in 3  World Cups.

Years later, he was to fall to ignominy.  Azhar's international career nosedived after he was reported involved in match-fixing and was banned by Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). The ban was eventually lifted by Andhra Pradesh High Court in 2012 as no clear evidence was found against the former captain. During CBI investigation, Azharuddin reportedly confessed that he had fixed three ODIs - the first against South Africa at Rajkot in 1996, then Pepsi Cup matches in Sri Lanka in 1997 and Pakistan in 1999. But then in an interview he denied being involved in any such activity. After investigation BCCI imposed a Life ban of him on Dec 5, 2000 but on Nov 8, 2012 The Andhra Pradesh High Court lifted the life ban on Azharuddin, terming it as 'unsustainable' as there was no concrete proof.

He dangled in politics but not successful and now in news for wrong reasons.  Media reports suggest that a case has been registered against former Indian cricketer Mohammed Azharuddin and two others for allegedly duping a travel agent off nearly Rs 21 lakh. Azharuddin, however, dismissed the allegation as "baseless", and said he will file a defamation case worth Rs 100 crore against the complainant.

As per the FIR, Shahab, owner of Danish Tours and Travels agency in Maharashtra's Aurangabad city, booked various international flight tickets worth Rs 20.96 lakh for Azharuddin and some others in November last year but was not paid. Shahab allegedly made the bookings on the request of the former India captain's personal assistant Mujib Khan and was repeatedly promised payment online. In his  complaint, Shahab said when he asked for the payment, Khan's associate Sudesh Awakkal sent an e-mail saying he has transferred Rs 10.6 lakh to him, but it was not received, the official said. In November, he was also sent a picture on WhatsApp of a cheque issued to him, but the complainant alleged that he did not receive any of the cheques, the police said.

Shahab on Wednesday lodged a complaint at City Chowk police station against Azharuddin, Khan and Awakkal under Indian Penal Code Sections 420 (cheating), 406 (criminal breach of trust) and 34 (common intention). Denying the allegations, Azharuddin in a video posted on Twitter said, "There is no truth in this complaint and is made just to be in limelight. The allegations made in the complaint are baseless. I will seek legal advice and file defamation case worth Rs 100 crore against the complainant."

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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