India set to pardon Mohammad Azharuddin

Mumbai, October 19:

India’s cricket chiefs said on Thursday they will go ahead and resurrect former captain Mohammad Azharuddin from a life of shame despite objections from the sport’s world governing body.

Azharuddin was banned from the game for life by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in 2000 after a federal inquiry found him guilty of match-fixing. Azharuddin, 43, denied the charges and is awaiting judgement on a suit filed by him in a court in his home city of Hyderabad challenging the life ban.

The new BCCI regime headed by political heavyweight Sharad Pawar is convinced Azharuddin has served enough punishment and deserves to be pardoned. The BCCI, which is pondering lifting the life ban, has invited Azharuddin to a function in Mumbai on November 4 to honour him and other Indian captains for their services to the game.

The International Cricket Council (ICC), which follows a policy of zero tolerance towards match-fixers, will decide on November 3 at its Executive Board meeting here whether to attend the function if the invitation to Azharuddin stands.

The BCCI, however, will not back off from inviting Azharuddin despite the ICC’s reservations and even took a swipe at the world governing body. “The general opinion is that Azhar had undergone enough punishment and he should be allowed to lead his life like cricketers who had faced similar charge in other countries but are going about as if they had done no wrong,” the BCCI’s chief administrative officer Ratnakar Shetty said in a statement.