AP High Court lifts ban on Azharuddin, says BCCI’s 2000 order ‘unsustainable’

Azharuddin

Twelve years after former India captain Mohammed Azharuddin was banished for life from all association with cricket, Andhra Pradesh High Court struck down the ban on Thursday.

Justices Ashutosh Mohanta and Krishna Mohan Reddy said the "unilateral" action by the Indian cricket board in 2000 — punishment for Azhar's alleged involvement in match-fixing — was "unsustainable".

The high court decision could pave the way for Azhar's return to the world he inhabited with great distinction for over a decade and a half, during which he played 99 Test matches for India, demonstrating an unmatched wristy artistry in scoring 22 hundreds.

The board had given an indication of softening its stance in 2006, when it invited the former batsman — now the Congress MP from Moradabad — to a felicitation function it organised in Mumbai. However, despite a view in the BCCI that he had been punished enough — more so since a court in Pakistan had lifted the ban on Salim Malik in 2008 — no concrete steps were taken to reverse the 2000 decision.

"I am a happy man today and I have no regrets that I was not allowed to play longer. I am not going to take any legal action against any authority and I don't want to blame anybody for this also. It is about destiny and whatever had to happen has happened. I don't have any complaints," Azhar said on Thursday.

Senior BCCI official and union minister Rajeev Shukla said: "I can only say that our legal team will analyse the judgment, only then will we take a decision."

Azhar received support from former BCCI secretary Jaywant Lele, who questioned the evidence that led to the ban. "In my opinion Azharuddin shouldn't have been banned for life in the first place. I am happy for him now," he said.

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