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Thatscricket - News - Indian cricket back on rails: Muthiah

Published: Wednesday, July 4, 2001, 19:33 [IST]
 
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New Delhi: Indian cricket has survived the match-fixing scandal and emerged stronger and more vibrant in the past year, its chief said on Monday. "India has been the forerunner in stalling match-fixing," said A C Muthiah, a Madras-based businessman who heads the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)."India was one of the few countries to initiate action in connection with the scandal and every cricket-playing nation has acknowledged this."The BCCI banned former captain Mohammad Azharuddin and Ajay Sharma for life. Ajay Jadeja and Manoj Prabhakar were banned for five years in a bid to restore the game's credibility last year."The Board had to face one obstacle after another and I think we came out of it well," Muthiah said.Indian cricket was in disarray last year when some national cricketers were linked along with former South African captain Hansie Cronje in the biggest scandal to hit the game. The Board had a twin task in hand: to restore cricket's credibility and fans' faith in the game.To make matters worse, there was dissent in the team.Sachin Tendulkar, unhappy over Azharuddin's inclusion, stepped down as captain after the two-Test home series against South Africa in February last year. Saurav Ganguly then led India to a 3-2 victory over the South Africans in One-dayers, but the victory lost much of its sheen when it was later alleged that some of the matches were fixed.Indian cricket remained in the news for the wrong reasons until the national selectors decided to name a "clean", young squad for an International Cricket Council Knock Out tournament in Kenya last October.Shorn of veterans Azharuddin and Jadeja, India surprised Australia and South Africa to make it to the final. India's resurgence was complete in February-March, when they overcame a three-day defeat in the first Test at Mumbai and a 274-run follow-on margin in the second at Kolkata to complete a remarkable 2-1 series win over Australia.Fans have flocked back to the game and industrial giants Sahara India are paying a record $ 21 million to sponsor the national team for the next three years."Our performance has also improved," said Muthiah, referring to India's eight-wicket victory over Zimbabwe in the opening Test at Bulawayo last month, the first Test success outside the sub-continent since 1986. India, however, lost the second Test to settle for a 1-1 draw in the series.

AFP
Copyright AFP 2001

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