Vinod Kambli on 17/11/2011 claimed that Cricket World Cup semi-final in Calcutta in 1996 could have been fixed. The team had decided to bat first if it won toss as in quarter-final against Pakistan it had batted first and won the match. Mohammed Azharuddin had won the toss. Navjot Singh Sidhu had padded up. Mohammed Azharuddin elected to field. Vinod Kambli was stunned. Sri Lanka batted first. India batting second went from 98/1 to 120/8 and there was crowd trouble. Match referee Clive Lloyd stopped the play and awarded the match to Sri Lanka. Vinod Kambli was in tears. Sri Lanka went to final and won the World Cup. India could have won the World Cup. He said he was made a scapegoat, shunned by team members and his career was over.
Mohammed Azharuddin contradicted Vinod Kambli. He said the decision to field first was a team decision and Vinod Kambli was perhaps sleeping when the decision was taken. In a previous match Sri Lanka had batted second and had defeated India. He said Vinod Kambli has no character, uneducated and uncouth. Sourav Ganguly suggested Mohammed Azharuddin should sue Vinod Kambli as whispers go around. Sanjay Manjrekar backed Mohammed Azharuddin. Ajit Wadekar who was manager said he and Navjot Singh Sidhu wanted to bat first but to field first was a team decision.
Some have questioned Vinod Kambli’s motive and timing. What was he doing for 15 years? He played ODIs after that and his last ODI was in 2000. Some said he was frustrated and desperate for attention.
There has been talk that Indians were told to lose the match to avoid playing in Pakistan. Some years later Mohammed Azharuddin was found guilty of match-fixing and banned for life. Ajay Jadeja was banned for five years. Two other cricketers were banned for some years.
Vinod Kambli’s statement came after Paul Condon, former head of ICC’s anti-corruption unit, said every international team in 1990s fixed games and spot-fixing began in World Cup 2003 in South Africa. He blamed proliferation of spot-fixing partly on popularity of Twenty20 cricket.
It does not matter Vinod Kambli did not speak for 15 years. He played in the match. The matter needs to be investigated. Mohammed Azharuddin is Congress MP. Navjot Singh Sidhu is BJP MP. Sachin Tendulkar continues to play. All cricketers in the Indian team at the time must be questioned.