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Monday, 15 January, 2001, 15:49 GMT
Azharuddin vows to return
Mohammad Azharuddin
Azharuddin collects a boundary against England
Mohammad Azharuddin has set his sights on a return to Test cricket despite a life ban imposed on him for match-fixing.

The 38-year-old former Indian captain has played 99 Tests and wants to reach 100 before retiring from the game.

He maintains he is innocent of any wrongdoing and has vowed to clear his name.

The life ban was handed out by the Board of Control for Cricket in India following an investigation by its anti-corruption commissioner, K Madhavan.

  Azha's Test 100s
110 v England 1984-5
105 v England 1984-5
122 v England 1984-5
199 v Sri Lanka 1986-7
141 v Pakistan 1986-7
110 v Pakistan 1986-7
109 v Pakistan 1989-90
192 v N Zealand 1989-90
121 v England 1990
179 v England 1990
106 v Australia 1991-2
182 v England 1992-3
108 v Sri Lanka 1993-4
152 v Sri Lanka 1993-4
109 v S Africa 1996-7
163* v S Africa 1996-7
115 v S Africa 1996-7
126 v Sri Lanka 1997-8
108* v Sri Lanka 1997-8
163* v Australia 1997-8
103* v N Zealand 1998-9
102 v S Africa 1999-2000

A legal challenge against the ban is expected to be heard in the high court in Hyderabad, Azharuddin's home city, next month.

"All I will say is that I have been discriminated against. Others have been let off lightly," he told Outlook magazine.

"Match-fixing simply cannot be a one-man show. This is a game which involves 11 players. If a team fails, it is spectacularly unfair to single out just one person.

"What I am trying to say is that unless the entire team is part of the conspiracy, match-fixing cannot take place. There cannot be any foul play on the part of a single person.

"In fact, even five players cannot work to fix a match, it won't work. I repeat that the entire team has to be in the know."

Former spinner Ajay Sharma was also banned for life last month and five-year suspensions were handed out to Ajay Jadeja, Manoj Prabhakar and physio Ali Irani.

The BCCI inquiry followed a report on corruption in cricket by the Central Bureau of Investigation, in which several leading players from India and other Test-playing nations were named.

Azharuddin is also under investigation by Indian tax officials.

All money 'legitimate'

But he told Outlook: "My taxes are clear. I have been playing cricket for 17 years. Why don't people understand that I would have earned some money through match fees and endorsements?

"I have a flat in Mumbai and live in a rented house here. Is that wrong?"

He added: "In my career I have never, not even once, received a default tax notice."

Former South African captain Hansie Cronje accepted that his international career was over after he was found guilty of accepting money from bookmakers in return for providing match information.

Azharuddin, however, refuses to accept he has played his last match for India.

Asked whether he thought he would ever make a 100th Test appearance, he replied: "I wish to. It will be a great honour to join the 100 Test club. I will cherish that recall and will be fighting fit."

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13 Jan 01 |  Corruption in Cricket
Indian Minister seeks match-fixing law
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