Azhar banned for life

2000-12-05 16:56

Madras - India's cricketing authorities on Tuesday handed down a life ban to former Indian cricket captain Mohammad Azharuddin and suspended Test star Ajay Jadeja for five years for match-fixing.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) said ex-Test player Ajay Sharma, who still plays top level cricket, would also face a life ban.

Another former international Manoj Prabhakar, who blew the whistle on the match-fixing scandal three years ago, was barred from holding any official post in Indian cricket for five years.

Ali Irani, the former physiotherapist of the Indian team, was also banned from associating himself with the game.

All four players and the physio were implicated in a match-fixing probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and another internal inquiry by the BCCI.

Wicketkeeper Nayan Mongia, who was exonerated by the CBI, was let off without any sanctions.

While Azharuddin, 38, admitted to fixing three one-day internationals, Jadeja, Sharma, Prabhakar and Irani were accused of hobnobbing with bookmakers.

BCCI president AC Muthiah announced the decisions after a meeting of it's disciplinary committee, which was authorised to fix the punishments for the players.

"These hard decisions have been taken after careful consideration," Muthiah said. "They will set an example for the future."

Muthiah added that the punished players have the right to appeal the decisions to the BCCI.

Kamal Morarka, a BCCI vice-president and strong critic of the CBI findings who advocated a soft line on the players, did not attend the disciplinary committee meeting.

Muthiah and another vice-president Ram Pershad were the other two members of the committee.

While Azharuddin had no realistic chance of playing for India, Jadeja's five-year suspension rules him out from making any further appearances on the international stage.

Azharuddin, India's most successful Test captain, has been denied a chance to play his 100th Test match, becoming the world's first cricketer to be stranded on 99 appearances.

The decision to impose a life ban on Azharuddin had been supported by 28 of the 30 BCCI affiliates at its special general body meeting in Calcutta last week.

The BCCI took a hard line approach to the case despite media speculation that there was high-level political pressure to let the 29-year-old Jadeja off lightly.

Morarka and former BCCI president Raj Singh Dungarpur had vehemently opposed any stiff penalty on the guilty players.

They cited the example of Australian stars Shane Warne and Mark Waugh, who were let off with a fine after admitting to taking money from Indian bookmaker "John" for providing team information.

The duo claimed that Pakistani cricketers like Wasim Akram and Mushtaq Ahmed were still playing for their country despite being named for similar offences in a judicial report earlier this year. - Sapa-AFP