With a month left to go for the ICC World T20 — the premier event for the shortest format of the game — a former India manager has made stunning claims of match-fixing by the then India Test captain MS Dhoni in 2014.
According to a report in DNA, Delhi and District Cricket Association sports secretary and former team manager Sunil Dev has claimed that he was a "100 percent sure" that Dhoni fixed the fourth Test in Old Trafford, Manchester when India toured England in 2014. Dev was captured making these allegations in a sting operation video conducted by Sun Star.
He described the bowling-friendly conditions on the day of the fourth Test and said that team would've bowled first on winning the toss, but Dhoni, inexplicably, did otherwise.
"Given the conditions of the pitch was wet due to long spell of rain, we had decided to bowl first in a team meeting. But Dhoni surprised everyone by opting to bat first," the report quoted Dev as saying in the sting video.
In a report in Times of India later, Dev denies all such allegations.
"It is all rubbish. I am planning to sue this Hindi daily and will seek legal recourse against anyone else who makes such malicious claims," Dev was quoted as saying by ToI.
India lost the Manchester Test by an innings and 54 runs and Dhoni was the top scorer from the Indian side, scoring 71 and 27 runs in the first and second innings respectively.
A Times of India report says that Dev had also lodged a formal complaint of the incident to the BCCI. He had written a letter to then BCCI president N Srinivasan, typing it out in front of the now besmirched cricket administrator in his office fearing a leak, but the board did not take any action in the matter. Dev also said he had not come out in public with his claims as he feared for his life and that no one would believe the truth.
However, the report quotes Justice Mukul Mudgal, who headed the eponymous Mudgal Committee probing the IPL spot-fixing scandal, as denying any knowledge of this incident and downplaying Dev's claims. "Match-fixing is not as common as it has been highlighted and unless there are two or three big players is involved, it can't be done," he was quoted as saying.
Dhoni retired from Test cricket in December 2014 after India drew the third Test of the tour Down Under against Australia in Melbourne. Virat Kohli took over Test captaincy and Dhoni has continued to lead the side in limited overs cricket. Under-fire recently after ODI series losses against South Africa at home and Australia away, Dhoni will be heading the team in the ICC World T20 in March.
Watch the video of the sting operation here