India probe Kambli's claims
New Delhi - India's sports minister on Saturday called for the country's cricket board to probe allegations by a former Indian batsman that the 1996 World Cup semi-final against Sri Lanka may have been fixed.
Vinod Kambli, an attacking left-hander who played 17 Tests and 104 one-day internationals before quitting in 2000, told a news channel this week that he "doubted" crucial decisions made during the match played in Kolkata.
"When a player of the team has made a charge, it should be thoroughly investigated," Sports Minister Ajay Maken told reporters in New Delhi.
"People of the country 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," he said.
Kambli has said he was particularly surprised by captain Mohammed Azharuddin's decision to field first as it had been decided at the pre-match meeting that the team would bat if they won the toss.
The semi-final was abandoned following crowd trouble after India, chasing 252, were 120 for 8 with Kambli unbeaten on 10. Sri Lanka were adjudged the winners.
Azharuddin, who was given a life ban in 2000 by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for match-fixing, denied Kambli's charges.
"It was a team decision to field first. It was made at a meeting where, everyone was there, including the manager. Kambli must have been sleeping during the team meeting," said Azharuddin.
The former skipper, who denies match-fixing charges, has appealed against the BCCI's life ban in court.
Maken, who has been at loggerheads with the BCCI over a proposed new law which aims to make the sports body's operations more transparent, said it was important to know if Kambli's claims hold water.
"If the BCCI doesn't conduct a probe, we will look at it," he said.
The game has lately been mired in controversies after a British court this month jailed three Pakistan cricketers for deliberately bowling no-balls in a Test against England at Lord's in order to effect an illegal betting coup.