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On this day: South Africa's win and the ghost of match-fixing (6th March)

  • After South Africa's win over India in the Test series, the ghost of match-fixing came out in public.
Ankit
CONTRIBUTOR
Feature
Modified 06 Mar 2020, 15:28 IST
Sachin Tendulkar in Australia
Sachin Tendulkar in Australia

The year was 2000 and South Africa were visiting India to play two Tests followed by five ODIs. South Africa ended up winning the Test series 2-0.

On this day, India lost the second Test of the series by an innings and 71 runs. This was the first time in 13 years that a touring nation had managed to win a series in India. 

The first Test of the series was played at Mumbai. After taking a lead of 49 runs in the first innings, the Indian team was bundled out for 113 runs.

Shaun Pollock took 4 crucial wickets in the second innings, and India gave South Africa a target of 163 runs. Herschelle Gibbs, Jacques Kallis and Mark Boucher's contributions helped the visitors win the match by 4 wickets.

Mark Boucher
Mark Boucher

That game also marked the debuts of Wasim Jaffer and Murali Karthik for India, and of Nicky Boje for South Africa. Sachin Tendulkar scored 97 runs and took 3 wickets in the first innings; he won the man of the match award for this performance.

After India's exit from the 1999 World Cup, Tendulkar was handed over the captaincy of the team. Although the team performed poorly against Australia, people had high hopes from India in the Test matches against South Africa. But things went pear-shaped rather quickly.

Also see – PSL 2020 schedule

Tendulkar thought of giving up the captaincy after the defeat in the first Test, but his wife managed to convince him against it. 

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The venue for the second Test was Bengaluru, and India lost this match by an innings and 71 runs. Boje scored 85 runs and took 7 wickets in the match; he was awarded the player of the match only in the second Test of his career.

Nikhil Chopra and Mohammad Kaif made their debuts for India in this match. When India were asked to follow on in the second innings Azharuddin scored a century, but it went in vain.

Post this defeat, Tendulkar did indeed step down from the captaincy of the Indian team. Sourav Ganguly was then selected as the captain for the ODI series. 

Hansie Cronje and Mohammad Azharuddin
Hansie Cronje and Mohammad Azharuddin

The second Test of the series was the last of Azharuddin. It was immediately after this series that the match-fixing scandal broke out.

Key players from both the nations were dragged into the controversy. Azharuddin, Ajay Sharma, Ajay Jadeja, Hansie Cronje, Herschelle Gibbs and Henry Williams were all named in the scandal. 

Azharuddin, Cronje and Ajay Sharma were handed life bans by their respective boards, while Jadeja was banned for five years. Gibbs was approached by a bookie and he did agree to underperform in the fifth ODI at Nagpur, but he retracted from his own decision and went on to score a match-winning knock of 74 runs off 53 balls.

Williams also agreed to underperform in the very same match. He was asked to concede more than 50 runs in the match, but after bowling 11 balls he got injured and didn't bowl a single ball more.

Both Gibbs and Williams were banned for six months. Gibbs, however, returned to play for South Africa and went on to smash many records. Williams on the other hand was never able to make it into the squad again.

Cronje later died in a plane crash in 2002. 

This series is considered one of the most controversial in the history of world cricket. But it was not the first time that the incident of match-fixing or spot-fixing came out in public.

Still, the involvement of popular cricketers in the incident sent a message that any player can be approached by bookmakers. India is a country where cricket is considered a religion, and when the names of these Indian players came up, the fans felt that their religion had cheated on them. 

Published 05 Mar 2020, 22:14 IST
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