Crisis Erupts as Prabhakar Goes Public on Bribe Offer

Published May 25th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Indian cricket faced a major crisis Thursday after Manoj Prabhakar finally went public with a claim that national icon Kapil Dev offered him a bribe to throw a match in 1994. 

Prabhakar, a former Test allrounder, broke his silence Wednesday to tell a website that it was Kapil who had asked him to play badly in a one-dayer against archrivals Pakistan in Sri Lanka. 

"He knows it, I know it and God knows it. He is Kapil Dev," Prabhakar told the website www.tehelka.com soon after testifying before the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is probing the match-fixing scandal. 

Kapil, current coach of the national team, has vehemently denied the allegations. 

Kapil had earlier demanded that India pull out of the Asia Cup till the scandal was resolved, but the Indian board overruled him by saying that international commitments had to be met. 

Prabhakar's video-recorded interview with the website was played back to reporters late on Wednesday night. 

"I can never forget that day," Prabhakar recalled. "I was in the bathroom shaving when my roommate Navjot Sidhu came and said that Kapil "paaji" (elder brother) wanted to speak to you. He has some offer. 

"I thought it was something to do with the sponsors logo on my bat. But I was shocked when Kapil offered me money to under-perform against Pakistan. 

"I told him that I will not be a party to this. I cannot be a traitor to my country. 

"As soon as Kapil heard this, he left the room," Prabhakar said. 

The cricketer, who says he is willing to undergo a lie-detector test, said he had reported the incident to the then captain Mohammad Azharuddin and coach Ajit Wadekar. 

"But they said, forget it, you are too good a player, just concentrate on the next match. 

Prabhakar added he had also mentioned the incident to former Test stars Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri, which were present in Sri Lanka as television commentators.  

"But they also told me to get on with the game." 

There was no immediate comment from any of the named witnesses, who could play a crucial role in the case - (AFP)

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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