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World Cup semifinal ‘fixing’
Digvijay defends Azhar; Maken wants probe
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 18
Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh today defended party MP and former cricket captain Mohammed Azharuddin against former cricketer Vinod Kambli’s allegations even as Sports Minister Ajay Maken wanted the match-fixing claims to be investigated by BCCI, saying his ministry might step in if the board does not order a probe.

“Why did he (Kambli) have to wait for 15 years? Azhar has been a great cricketer, a great skipper and above all, a great human being,” Digvijay Singh said, suspecting a political motive behind the attack on the Congress MP from Moradabad. Azhar himself dubbed the allegation as “absolutely rubbish”.

“Absolutely rubbish, whatever he (Kambli) is talking. He doesn’t know what he is talking about. When you have people who have no character and no background, on TV, they talk absolute rubbish in front of the nation, demeaning all the players who played in the team. It is totally disrespectful and very sad,” the former cricket captain was quoted as saying. However, Kambli’s claim that something was "amiss" in India's loss in the 1996 World Cup semifinal against Sri Lanka, prompted the Sports Minister to say that the claim should be investigated for all its worth.

“When a player of the team has made a charge, it should be thoroughly investigated. People have the right to know what exactly happened. Whether the accusations made by the player are true or false, the people have the right to know,” Maken said on the sidelines of an NSS felicitation ceremony.

The minister said if BCCI doesn't act, Sports Ministry might conduct a probe on its own. “We will see. As you know, the BCCI has not come to the Sports Ministry for any recognition so far, but I would want, whatever agency is there, the BCCI should order a probe into it. If the BCCI doesn't conduct a probe, we’ll look at it,” he said.

Maken said he was pained by claims made by Kambli and said if true, it would be extremely unfortunate for the game. “It should be investigated properly. I think we should go to the roots of it so that we can know the truth,” he said, adding, “Cricket lovers have the right to know because the World Cup semifinal must have been seen by everyone all over the country. If match-fixing has happened, it is unfortunate.” He also stressed on the importance of having a law against betting in sports and reiterated that all federations should come under the RTI. 





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