Decision to field 1996 WC semis stunned me: Kambli

Decision to field 1996 WC semis stunned me: Kambli

Kambli, who scored 1084 runs in 17 Tests and 2477 runs in 104 ODIs for India, said he was suspicious of then captain Mohammed Azharuddin's decision to field first in the semi-final which was eventually awarded to Sri Lanka because of crowd problem.

Kambli claims that his suspicion arose due to Mohammed Azharuddin's decision to field first even though it was unanimously decided that the team would bat after winning the toss. "I will never forget the 1996 match because my career ended after this and I was dropped from the team. I was stunned by India's decision to field," Kambli said while participating in a STAR News debate on ex-chief of ICC anti-corruption unit Paul Condon's statement that in the 90s and in the following years all of cricket's leading countries were involved in fixing major matches.

"I was standing on one side and on the other end my fellow batsman was telling me that we would chase the target. However, soon after they quickly got out one by one. I don't know what transpired.

"Something was definitely amiss. However, I was not given a chance to speak and was dropped soon after. Our team manager at that time Ajit Wadekar was aware of everything. He had even written an article afterwards that Vinod Kambli had been made a scapegoat," he said.

Kambli said he was shocked when it came to know that they have to field when everybody was mentally prepared to bat. "We had been playing well during the entire World Cup and even defeated the likes of West Indies and Pakistan to reach the semifinal. Our openers were all set to bat, however, at the nick of time, we learnt we had to field. I got a huge shock after learning this," he said.

"I cried because I thought I was robbed of a chance to do it for my country. The entire team hugged me. Most of us were crying, he recalled. It was not only Tendulkar and other cricketers' dream to win the Cup but mine too," he added.

Sri Lanka won the first semi-final over India at Eden Gardens when chasing a total of 251 for 8, the hosts slumped to 120 for 8 in the 35th over and that led to crowd disturbance.

The players left the field for 20 minutes in an attempt to quieten the crowd. When the players returned for play, more bottles were thrown onto the field, forcing Match referee Clive Lloyd to award the match to Sri Lanka, the first default ever in Test or One Day International.