New Delhi: A new book by veteran sportswriter Pradeep Magazine has revealed that former Pakistan captain Asif Iqbal, whose name came up repeatedly in connection with match-fixing at the turn of this century, was involved in one such incident in 1980.
Magazine’s book, titled Not Just Cricket, cites former India skipper, late Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, as saying that Iqbal had approached India’s stand-in captain Gundappa Viswanath before the final Test of a six-match India-Pakistan series in 1979-80 with an offer to fix the game.
Sunil Gavaskar, the then-Test captain, had opted out of the final Test at Eden Gardens, Kolkata, making way for vice-captain Viswanath to be the stand-in skipper. A “distraught” Viswanath confided in Pataudi, his former captain and mentor, who was retired by this time but was staying in the same hotel as the Indian contingent.
According to the book, Pataudi was baffled by Iqbal’s brazenness in making such an offer. Magazine believes that he felt this incident was never treated with the seriousness it deserved, and had the authorities taken stricter measures at the time, the sport would not have had to take a “massive blow” to its credibility in the years to come.
Same match as Sarfraz Nawaz’s ‘toss-fixing’ claims
Iqbal, who started his career as a swing bowler for Pakistan and developed into a capable all-rounder, came under scrutiny on more than one occasion for betting and fixing matches, allegedly being one of the earliest cricketers to do so.
He had been accused by his former Pakistan teammate Sarfraz Nawaz of picking up the coin at the toss in this same match before Viswanath could even see it for himself, and told him that India had won it.
Nawaz also raised questions over Iqbal’s decision to declare after the first innings when Pakistan were just 59 runs behind the total India had put on board with six wickets in hand.
Iqbal refused to comment on these claims made by his teammate, saying that responding would only give those statements dignity. Nawaz was not part of Pakistan’s 1979-80 tour of India.
Nawaz had also made allegations against Gavaskar, who rubbished the claims and said it was a “pity we have to talk to the scum of the Earth on television”.
(Edited by Rohan Manoj)