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21st March

 Hearing on Azharuddin’s ban plea postponed to April 3

Hyderabad, March 20: An Indian civil court on Tuesday postponed a hearing on former India cricket captain Mohammad Azharuddin's challenge against a life ban until April 3.

The court in this southern city briefly heard proceedings in the case before fixing the date.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) banned Azharuddin for life over match-fixing allegations last December following a federal Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) report, which named five Indian Test players.

The court asked BCCI president A.C. Muthiah and its anti-corruption official K.Madhavan to file responses to Azharuddin's bid for documents regarding Madhavan's appointment as the BCCI investigator in the match-fixing scandal.

Madhavan, a former CBI joint director, held an internal probe following the federal inquiry. The BCCI banned Azharuddin on the basis of Madhavan's conclusions.

The BCCI also banned Ajay Sharma for life and suspended Ajay Jadeja and Manoj Prabhakar for five years. Wicket-keeper Nayan Mongia, the other Indian Test player named in the report, was exonerated.

All four players against whom BCCI took action have denied any wrongdoing.

Azharuddin took court action in January against the BCCI, Muthiah and Madhavan, arguing that the BCCI probe was not "fair and independent".

He also argued that Madhavan's appointment, as the BCCI's anti-corruption commissioner had been "illegal and arbitrary".

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10th March

 Azhar says he will make a comeback 

Hyderabad, March 10: Disgraced former Indian skipper Mohammed Azharuddin, who has been slapped with a life ban for alleged involvement in match-fixing, on Saturday expressed confidence that he would stage a comeback in cricket.

"I hope to be in white flannels soon and I am confident of playing for India again," the Hyderabad batsman said at a press conference here after launching an event management and entertainment company -- Azhar Sangeeta Management Services Limited (ASMS).

Refusing to answer queries on match-fixing on the ground that it was subjudice, he expressed confidence that he would come out clean and said "public opinion can change after the court verdict".

He also asserted that he had no regrets for being silent, unlike the vociferous denials by other players like Manoj Prabhakar.

Azharuddin has filed a suit against the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), its president and an anti-corruption official over his life ban, which was imposed last December. His appeal against the ban will be heard in April.

"I did not want to create controversies. Media is never my enemy," Azhar said of his being away from media ever since the CBI report on the scandal.

Leaving no one in doubt about his fitness, he declared, "I am physically fit and doing my regular work-outs. Hopefully, I will make a comeback". 

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 Clive Lloyd probes Sharjah match-fixing charges

Sharjah, March 10: An independent commission of inquiry including former West Indies captain Clive Lloyd has started a probe into match-fixing allegations at cricket matches in Sharjah.

The Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) said the three-member commission met with ECB and Cricketers' Benefit Fund Series officials on Thursday and Friday and visited the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on a preliminary fact-finding mission.

"The commission intends to reconvene in the UK for the purpose of conducting interviews with a number of individuals, and again in Sharjah in the near future for further interviews," said legal expert George Staple, another panel member.

They will work in cooperation with the International Cricket Council (ICC) and submit a report to the ECB "in due course", said the former director of Britain's serious fraud office.

The third member of the commission is a high-ranking Emirati police officer, Brigadier Mohammad Al-Mualla.

Cricket in the Emirates, an ICC associate member that has hosted more one-day internationals than any other venue, is based around Sharjah, which has a 28,000-seater stadium and plays host to a yearly tri-series competition.

"If any individuals are involved in any unsavoury associations, it is entirely at their own initiative and responsibility," the ECB board said in November, backing a probe to clear Sharjah's name.

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7th March

 Azhar demands documents pertaining to Madhavan’s appointment

Hyderabad, March 7: Former Indian captain Mohd Azharuddin on Wednesday filed a writ petition in the city civil court seeking production of documents pertaining to the appointment of former CBI joint director K Madhavan as cricket board's inquiry commissioner.

T Jagdeesh, counsel for Azhar, filed the writ before the second Chief Judge J Shyamsundar Rao, who asked BCCI to file counter affidavit on March 20.

The counsel contended that details of Madhavan's appointment as BCCI inquiry commissioner were not found in the earlier affidavits filed in the court and sought direction to BCCI to make available to him copy of the documents to proceed with the arguments.

He said since Madhavan's appointment is the subject matter of the suit; its relevant documents should be made available to him to proceed further.

The judge refrained from giving any direction but asked BCCI to file a counter affidavit in this regard on March 20.

Azhar, who had filed a 17-page petition in the court in January last challenging BCCI's life ban on him in the match-fixing scandal, had made strong charges against the cricket board on several counts and said the probe into match-fixing was not carried out in a transparent way.

Challenging the appointment of Madhavan as the inquiry commissioner, Azhar had said, "It was illegal and arbitrary." He also questioned the method of inquiry and said, "The inquiry by Madhavan was not at all open, transparent, fair and independent and had been biased in favour of BCCI." 

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5th March

 Income Tax notices to bookies; some cricketers submit returns

New Delhi, March 5: Income tax authorities have almost completed issuing notices to all bookies involved in the cricket match-fixing scandal, including that of South Delhi based jeweller Mukesh Gupta.

Highly placed income tax sources said that notices to majority of bookies had been sent and some of them had submitted their block returns in the wake of appraisals made of seizures during countrywide searches on July 20 last year.

The sources said that necessary action would be taken after the assessing officer would compare their returns to that of the assessment made by the income tax department. The sources said taxmen had completed the assessment of some bookies including that of Gupta on a priority basis.

However, they said some bookies still remained to be served with the notice and the process would be completed within the next fortnight. Meanwhile, several cricketers, who had been served notices after the nation-wide raids last year, had submitted their returns to the income tax authorities.

The assessing officer concerned had issued notices to Manoj Prabhakar, Ajay Sharma, Ajay Jadeja, Nikhil Chopra, Mohammed Azharuddin, Navjot Sidhu and Kapil Dev.

Barring Kapil Dev, who had sought some more time, rest of the cricket players had submitted their returns to the income tax authorities. The players had filed in their block returns for the period of 1990-2000, the sources said.

Income tax has estimated a enormous "undisclosed income", assets and investments by seven cricketers including Kapil Dev and Mohammad Azharuddin.

The appraisal reports of the players, whose premises were searched as part of 'Operation Gentleman' in July last, estimated the undisclosed income of Kapil Dev and Manoj Prabhakar at around Rs 2.5 crore and of Ajay Jadeja at around Rs 2.2 crore, the sources said.

The undisclosed income of Ajay Sharma and Nikhil Chopra was estimated at around Rs 70 lakhs and Rs 50 lakhs respectively; they said adding the appraisal reports had been prepared after confronting the players with evidence gathered during the searches and documents relating to their advertisement and endorsement revenue, match fees and gifts.

In a nation-wide swoop, taxmen had last year raided premises of cricketers including Kapil Dev, Jadeja, Ajay Sharma, Nikhil Chopra and Manoj Prabhakar, Azharuddin and Navjot Sidhu, former ICC chief Jagmohan Dalmiya, Worldtel chairman Mark Mascarenhas and BCCI treasurer Kishore Rungta, besides some bookies.

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 Ajay Jadeja has no hopes of making it to the national team ever again

Mumbai, March 4: Banned Indian cricketer Ajay Jadeja has dismissed hopes of making it back to the national squad. Talking in Mumbai while on way to Jamnagar from Delhi, Jadeja said he saw slim chances of his playing again for the country following the five-year ban.

Also, he criticized the off-field speculative comments by the media on the private life of players. "The criticism by writers and columnists of young cricketers, linking their on-field performance to their private life, is not fair," he said.

He defended captain Saurav Ganguly on reports linking his poor performance to the latter's alleged intimacy to South Indian actress Nagma.

"Saurav's friendship with Nagma should not be attached to his captaincy and such write-ups do put mental tension on a player's performance," he said.

Jadeja said it was not fair on the part of former cricketers to criticize the current players, particularly when the latter are under constant threat of being dropped from the team by the selectors following even a solitary bad performance.

"Why are there five changes in our current Test team when we performed well against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe last year. Is there any logic of trying with Rahul Sanghvi as spinner when Sunil Joshi had performed well with both the bat and the ball in the last Test series," he questioned.

Jadeja is currently working with a project to help the earthquake victims of Gujarat. His petition against his involvement in the match-fixing scandal will come up for a verdict on March 29.

"Only after that, I will decide on my future course of action," he said. Criticizing the selectors for juggling with young cricketers without giving them a fair chance to prove their worth, Jadeja said such short-term attitude would not help Indian cricket.

"It is the team spirit and overall quality that makes Australia a distinguished identity among others and enables them perform well, repeatedly. We can never achieve that if we have a partial and short-sided approach," he added.

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4th March

 Strict code of Conduct to help combat sports fraud

New Delhi, March 3: India on Saturday announced a strict code of conduct to help combat fraud in sport.

Sports Minister Uma Bharati said the code, covering all sports federations, had been formulated in response to the recent cricket match-fixing controversy.

"We had found ourselves helpless and unable to take any action then. We want to prevent such a situation in future," Bharati told reporters.

Former Indian Skipper Mohammad Azharuddin and Test Player Ajay Sharma were banned for life by India's cricket board late last year while Former all rounder Manoj Prabhakar and batting sensation Ajay Jadeja were barred for five years.

The move was prompted by a federal police report naming the players in connection with match-fixing. All denied the charges, with Azharuddin and Jadeja challenging their bans in court.

The police report also castigated the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for failing to investigate the allegations of rigged results. The BCCI had dismissed them as "just conjecture".

Bharti, speaking after a meeting with provincial sports ministers, added, "We are in favour of a very strict code for all sports federations in the country so that Indian sport can be cleansed."

The minister said details of the code would be unveiled soon following final negotiations with sports federations. 

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