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  Madhavan's Verdict on Match Fixing : The Complete Report  
 

 

Dr. ALI IRANI

213. We now come to Dr. Ali Irani, the physiotherapist of the Indian team, who was nicknamed by the team as mother hen. The reason for this was that whenever the team went out for physical exercise, he used to lead the team and the other members used to follow him like chicks. This was disclosed to me by Dr. Ali Irani himself in a tone which had justifiably, satisfaction as well as pride in it.

214. CBI has set out the salient features of his statement at Pages 71-76. CBI has made available to me a copy of his full statement, which is placed at pages 021-025 of Vol.-II. His statement, as recorded by me is at pages of 089-095 Volume-III.

215. Dr. Irani was physiotherapist with the Indian team from 1987 to 1997 except for a gap of around 6 months in between.

216. In the statement recorded by the CBI, he stated that it was during the India-West Indies one-day international in Kanpur that everyone for the time felt that something was wrong. He further added before the CBI as under:

"In that match Manoj Prabhakar and Nayan Mongia did not chase the target and simply played out the remaining balls. It looked as if they were batting to play out the balls rather than winning the match and it was also peculiar that Ajit Wadekar who was the coach of the team and who should have been watching the match and passing necessary instructions was sitting in the dressing-room unmindful of what was happening on the ground. I further state that people were so upset that one of the selectors, namely G.R. Vishwanath, even came to the dressing room and shouted at Ajit Wadekar, asking him whether he knew what was going on in the field and whether he had passed any instructions for the same.

After the match was over when Manoj Prabhakar came into the dressing room he said that Nayan Mongia had asked him to play out the remaining balls as that was the instructions from the dressing room. When Nayan Mongia was asked about it he said that he had been told to say so but who had told him to say so he could not say. That evening when the team was returning after dinner by bus, Manoj Prabhakar was abusing Ajit Wadekar and Azhar, probably because he knew that a decision to drop him and Nayan Mongia for the next two matches had been taken, by them".

217. Regarding the above, Dr. Irani made different statement before me as under:

"With reference to my statement recorded by the CBI regarding the Kanpur match in 1994 between India and West Indies, I was inside the physiotherapy room, treating someone. I only saw GR Vishwanath asking Ajit Wadekar whether he had passed on instructions for what was going on in the field. Ajit Wadekar went out with GR Vishwanath and I do not know what transpired outside. It is not correct that Manoj Prabhakar told me in the dressing room that Nayan Mongia had asked him to play out the remaining balls as that was the instructions from the dressing room. In the evening when we were going for an official team dinner, I heard Manoj Prabhakar shouting, particularly at no one, "You have stepped on the tail of a snake". I do not know about whom he was saying this".

218. From the demeanour of Dr. Irani during the examination, I am of the view that Dr. Irani had told the truth to the CBI but partly went back on it before me and gave a different version before me. Presence of mind and absence of body obviously dictated his attitude before me.

219. Regarding certain undesirable persons gaining entry into the dressing room, Dr. Irani stated as under before the CBI:

"I may further state that certain undesirable characters were gaining entry into the dressing room as there have been instances of Ajit Wadekar asking someone, who claimed to be close to Kapil Dev, to get out of the dressing room. In fact, team members, especially from the South, in a Test Match against Sri Lanka in 1997 strongly objected to the presence of Ajay Sharma, a former Indian player, in the dressing room. I once also saw Ajay Sharma in Chandigarh when the Indian Team was playing there. Ajay Sharma had brought some bats for Azharuddin but during that match Azhar was down with fever and he could not play, so he left the place with Ajay Sharma. It was well known that Ajay Sharma was very close to Azhar".

220. When the aforesaid portion was read out to Dr. Irani, he stated as under in the statement recorded by me.

"Regarding Ajit Wadekar shouting at a person, who claimed to be close to Kapil Dev and asking him to get out of the dressing room, the rule is that only players, ex-players and Board officials can be in the dressing room. Occasionally, however, some unauthorised persons, claiming to be friends of some player or the other would try to enter the dressing room and mostly they were not allowed to enter.

'The incident relating to Ajay Sharma being in the dressing room and other players objecting to that took place in Delhi and not in Sri Lanka. The objection in this regard was mainly by Madan Lal who was the coach. It was not players from the South.

'Regarding the Chandigarh incident, I confirm that I did tell the CBI about Ajay Sharma bringing some bats for Azharuddin and leaving with Azharuddin when Azharuddin developed fever and could not play. This was during the Challengers Trophy played among India, India A and India B in 1996. I did tell the CBI it was well known that Ajay Sharma was very close to Azhar."

221. Dr. Irani also stated as under before the CBI regarding a match played in 1997 in West Indies.

"I (sic) quite another instance where I had suspected that that match was deliberately lost, relates to a match played in the West Indies in 1997. The Indian team had to make only a few runs but inspite of a number of wickets they could not make them and from the manner in which the team was playing, it raised suspicion. After the match some of the boys blamed the loss due to "a silly excuse" like "Voodoo" being practiced by some locals on the field, which distracted them".

222. Regarding this, Dr. Irani stated before me that he also felt that the Indian team losing the match came about because India did not play to its potential. Otherwise he confirmed that he stated as above.

223. Once again, it will be seen that from a positive suspicion of match fixing which he conveyed to CBI, he watered it down in the statement recorded by me as India not playing to its potential which could also mean that India was not in form that day. From the demeanour of Dr. Irani, I am not inclined to accept the revised version which Dr. Irani stated before me.

224. Before the CBI, Dr. Irani categorically stated that he was not aware of the alleged offer of Rs. 25 lakhs made by Kapil Dev to Manoj Prabhakar.

225. Dr. Irani fully confirmed this before me also.

226. Before the CBI, Dr. Irani stated as under regarding M.K. "On being asked whether I knew M.K. Gupta, I state that I do not know any such person. Today you have shown me a photograph of M.K. Gupta and I state that this person had been introduced to me by Azhar as 'John' and not as 'M.K. Gupta', in a Test match in Ahmedabad in 1996. I further state that in the Indian Team Nayan Mongia and Manoj Prabhakar were good friends so were Azhar and Ajay Jadeja and Sidhu and Manoj Prabhakar. Initially, Ajay Jadeja was very close to Manoj Prabhakar. I had often seen Azhar and Ajay Jadeja talking in hushed tones and very often I had doubted that their conversation related to some hanky-panky in the matches".

227. Before me regarding this, Dr. Irani stated as under: "Regarding M.K. Gupta, it is a fact that I do not know him. Once when Azhar had gone out for a dinner, he telephoned from that place and told me that he was getting delayed and that some one would come and deliver a parcel for him which I was to collect and give to Azhar when he came back. After some time, a person came, introduced himself as John and delivered a sports bag for being given to Azharuddin. When Azharuddin returned, he collected the bag from me. I did not know what the bag contained. When CBI showed the photograph of the person who the CBI said was MK, I then told them that this may be the person who came as John and delivered the sports bag on that day. I may add here that as I mostly remain in room and the players have used to go out, parcels, articles, letters etc., for all the team very often used to be delivered in my room and the team players used to collect them later.

'It is correct that I told the CBI that in the Indian team, Nayan Mongia and Manoj Prabhakar were good friends and so were Azharuddin, Ajay Jadeja, Sidhu and Manoj Prabhakar. I was friendly with all the players.

'It is not correct that I told the CBI that I have often seen Azhar and Ajay Jadeja talking in hushed tones and very often I had doubted that their conversation related to hanky-panky in the matches."

228. The further statement recorded by me of Dr. Irani necessiated reproduction of certain parts of his statement made by him before CBI. It is therefore, convenient to reproduce below the statement of Dr. Irani before me in this regard.

"14). Now you have read out to me the following portions in my statement as recorded by the CBI.

15). Later, when Azhar became more close to me he opened up with me and asked me to collect money on his behalf. I told Azhar that I could not collect money on his behalf but if someone gave money for him (Azhar) to me in my room I will tell him (Azhar). Azhar then told me that 'John' would give me money and then this person 'John' and his representative (a guy from Bombay) gave me money for Azhar on a number of occasions. I will not be able to tell about the identity of the other person as he was never introduced to me by John. Azhar would ring me or tell me in advance that John would be sending money. I further state that I would not say how much money must have been transferred by John to Azhar but each transaction was in lakhs and some transactions were as high as Rs. 10 to 15 lakhs. For rendering this service Azhar used to pay me anywhere from Rs. 25,000/- to Rs. 50,000/- on each occasion. I may further state that although I was a conduit for transfer of money from John to Azhar, I did on each occasion tell Azhar that what he (Azhar) was doing was not correct. However, my greed to be with the Indian Team as a physiotherapist got the better off me.

16). On being asked as to which other players were involved with Azhar, I state that Ajay Jadeja, Nayan Mongia, Manoj Prabhakar (not playing now) were also involved with Azhar in this matter. I further state that I had absolutely no (doubt) about the involvement of Ajay Jadeja with Azhar as in 1996 during a one day match, Ajay Jadeja told me, not to talk about such things to him as he was no longer into it. He said this to me since Ajay knew by that time that Azhar had confided in me as to what was happening. I may further state that the bookies normally approached the players individually and that even, often two players would not realise that they had been approached by the same bookie.

I state that I did not give such a statement to CBI at all. The only thing I told the CBI was that on another occasion some one else also had left a bag in my house for Azhar and within an hour Azhar's driver came and collected. I do not know what the bag contained."

229. In the statement recorded by CBI Dr. Irani had also stated as under: "I state that if one studies the body language of the players after a match then one can at times realise that a particular player was involved in match fixing. There have been occasions that when the Indian team had won, some players had not been happy after the match. In fact, in a match against Pakistan during 'Independence Cup', the Indian team had won, but when the camera focussed on Azhar he did not appear happy. Noticing this, the camera remained focussed on him for a reasonably long time."

230. He more or less confirmed this in the statement recorded by me as under:

"17). As I am not a psychiatrist, I cannot always say from the body language of a player after the match that a particular player was involved in match fixing. It is however correct that I told CBI that in a match against Pakistan during Independence Cup in 1997, the Indian team had won, but when the camera focused on Azhar, he did not appear happy. Due to this, the camera remained focussed on Azhar for a long time. In fact, the other players had seen it first and drawn my attention to it."

231. Before the CBI, Dr. Irani also stated that during the later stages his relationship with Azhar came under stress because he has objected to his association with Sangeeta Bijlani and also objected to his above said activities.

232. Regarding the above, Dr. Irani gave a different version before me, which is reproduced below:

"In 1994 I gave a confidential report to the Secretary, BCCI in which I mentioned that when a team meeting was going on, Azharuddin who was captain of the team, was speaking to Sangeeta Bijlani on phone. Azharuddin came to know about this and our relationship soured. It became worse in 1995 when I told him not to divorce his wife for marrying Sangeeta Bijlani. In fact I did not attend his wedding."

233. Dr. Irani also told CBI as under:

"I may further state that often one could tell from the reaction of the players in the Team Meeting prior to the match about their performance. This was specially true in the case of Manoj Prabhakar and N.S. Sidhu Whenever they spoke a lot in the Team Meeting it could be known that they were not going to score, much."

234. He more or less confirmed this before me though the language used by him (at Para 19 of his statement) was different.

235. In the CBI statement Dr. Irani had spoken well about Tendulkar as a capable batsman against whom Dr. Irani had heard nothing adverse also. In the statement recorded by him also Dr. Irani took the same stand.

236. Dr. Irani also stated as under before the CBI:

"On being asked about the involvement of underworld in match fixing and betting specially with reference to the involvement of Sharad Shetty I state that although I do not have any first hand knowledge, however, once Azhar had told me that as he (Azhar) was already doing matches with Anees Ibrahim, he (Azhar) would not do so with anyone else."

237. Regarding the above, Dr. Irani stated before me that he did not state as above before the CBI.

238. CBI has analysed the evidence against Dr. Ali Irani at Pages 123-124. In the analysis, CBI has relied not only what Dr. Irani stated before CBI but also on the statement of M.K. which is placed at Pages 065-075 of Vol.-II.

239. M.K. had stated before CBI that Azharuddin had introduced him to Dr. Irani during the Ahmedabad Test against South Africa in 1996. Dr. Irani admitted before CBI that he was introduced to M.K. by Azharuddin, but he knew M.K. only as John.

240. M.K. has further stated that Azharuddin had directed him to make payments towards the matches he 'did' for M.K. through Dr. Irani. M.K. also stated before CBI that on some occasion, money to Azhar was paid through Dr. Irani. Dr. Irani also admitted before CBI that he accepted money from M.K. and representatives on behalf of Azharuddin on a number of occasions and some of the transactions were to the tune of Rs. 10-15 Lakhs. This was also corroborated before CBI by Anil Steel that on two occasions he had made payments to Dr. Irani on behalf of M.K. CBI has also stated, "Dr. Irani has also confessed that he used to get around Rs. 25,000 - 50,000 on each occasion for rendering this service to Azharuddin. However, Azharuddin was silent about Dr. Ali Irani during his examination.

241. CBI had examined Dr. Ali Irani at the height of the match fixing scandal. At that time every involved person was in a mood to convey everything truthfully to CBI. I am, therefore, of the view that Dr. Irani did mention in the statement recorded by the CBI as set out in the copy of his statement which has been made available by the CBI. Dr. Irani has significantly and cleverly spoken about the antipathy which Azharuddin developed against him during 1994-95. The selection by Dr. Irani of this period is obviously because M.K. was introduced by Azharuddin to him in 1996. What Dr. Irani tries to establish now by inference is that in as much as a cold war situation arose between him and Azharuddin in 1994-95, it is not possible that from 1996 onwards M.K. was making some of the payments to Azharuddin through Dr. Irani.

242. For the reasons set out above my final opinion regarding the role of Dr. Ali Irani is as under:-
i) He acted as a conduit between Mohd. Azharuddin and the betting syndicate, including in accepting payments of large amounts of cash on behalf of Azharuddin.
ii) He had close contacts with bookies/punters like M.K. Gupta and Anil Steel in this regard. iii) Irrespective of the allegations established as above, he is also guilty of unbecoming conduct as the physiotherapist of the Indian Team for maintaining frequent contacts with bookies/punters.

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