Video: That awkward moment when you don’t want to win a match for your country

Sudipta / 30 April 2016

In 1994, India played a tri-series involving New Zealand and West Indies. It was the fourth match of the Wills Cup played on October 30. India lost the match  by 46 runs. India won the first two matches and had already booked the berth in the final.

In the Kanpur match, India were 195 for five, chasing the West Indies’ total of 257 for six in 50 overs when Nayan Mongia joined Manoj Prabhakar, who along with Sachin Tendulkar had opened the Indian innings. The two —Manoj and Mongia —instead of looking for quick runs, with India having to score 63 runs for a possible win off 43 balls, were content in picking up the odd single or the two and the asking rate, which was around seven when the fifth Indian wicket fell, rose first to eight and then to ten. But the two Indians made no effort to go for the West Indies bowling and were content to just bat along. Manoj Prabhakar ended the match with 102 runs to his name off 154 balls (his second hundred in one-day internationals) while Mongia scored just four off 21 balls as India slumped to a loss without even giving a game fight.

Immediately after the match, according to Dr Ravinder Chadha who was present at Kanpur in his capacity as a national selector, Gundappa Vishwanath, who was chairman of the national selection committee, rushed to the Indian dressing room to talk to Manoj Prabhakar and Mongia. “But strangely enough,” according to Dr Chadha, “Manoj took the plea that there was no message from the Indian dressing room to speed up the scoring. Also, Manoj said, Mongia too did not bring any message from the dressing room to speed up the scoring”. At this point, Vishwanath told the Indian allrounder that he was too senior a player not to realise that India needed quick runs to make a match of it. This discussion took place in the Indian dressing room in front of all players of the squad.

The national selectors who were present at Kanpur then decided to refer the matter to the then board president, Mr Inderjit Singh Bindra, and the secretary, Mr Jagmohan Dalmiya. This decision was taken in the Indian dressing room itself and Vishwanath had a talk with the senior board functionaries. Later, when the selectors met to pick the team for the remaining matches of the series it was decided that both Prabhakar and Mongia would be dropped from the Indian team. Not only that, Mr Rama Subba Rao, the match observer from the International Cricket Council (ICC), decided that the West Indies would not be given the two points for the win but he was over-ruled by the ICC. However, India were penalised two points by the ICC for affecting New Zealand’s prospects in the tournament by not trying to go for a win.

“This was the most appropriate time for the board to take action and conduct a complete enquiry into the reasons why both Prabhakar and Mongia indulged in such a blatant anti-India role. If such an enquiry had been done by the then functionaries of the board then the alleged nexus between the players and the bookies might have been exposed. It was apparent to all present at Kanpur that the two Indian batsmen were not playing to achieve the target,” Dr Chadha maintained.

Dr Chadha said Kapil was being “unnecessarily drawn into the controversy of match-fixing as he was not even present at the Kanpur match.” In fact , Dr Chadha was of the opinion that Prabhakar should first clear his doings in the Kanpur match before he pointed fingers at Kapil Dev for allegedly offering him money to play below par in the one-day tournament in Sri Lanka.

The former Haryana captain under whose leadership Kapil has played a lot of first-class matches in the formative years of his career demanded that the BCCI and the CBI should also probe the happenings of the Kanpur match but it never happen. Manoj Prabhakar  and Nayan Mongia got passed off their activity.

Watch the video of the match: