Mumbai : This is a throwback to those heady days when Sharjah was a regular cricket hub and Dawood Ibrahim was a faceless and relatively unknown Mumbai underworld don.
But Dawood was even then resourceful enough to gain access to the dressing room of the Indian cricket team. At his side was comedian Mehmood, who introduced Dawood as a big businessman from Dubai.
Former skipper Dilip Vengsarkar was in the dressing room and claims that Dawood offered each player a Toyota car if they beat Pakistan and won the Austral-Asia Cup in Sharjah. Mehmood had made the offer on Dawood’s behalf.
However, Captain Kapil Dev happened to walk into the dressing room that instant and immediately inquired about the presence of Dawood. A sticker for rules, Kapil promptly asked him to vacate the room.
Later, outside the dressing room, a miffed Dawood, annoyed with Kapil, was heard saying that the car deal was off.
‘’Yes, I remember a gentleman walking into our dressing room during a game in Sharjah and wanting to talk to the players,” Kapil Dev told a website after Vengsarkar reported the incident.
But the website also quoted Kapil as saying that he had no knowledge of Toyota cars being offered to the members of the team. Kapil also denies chiding the don.
The match, incidentally, will be best remembered for the last-ball six, which Javed Miandad had hit off Chetan Sharma, thus enabling Pakistan to win the trophy.
It may be recalled that the former BCCI secretary Jaywant Lele had also mentioned the incident in his book. He had also written about the Toyota car offer that Dawood had made. “If the Indian team becomes champion here, I shall present a Toyota car to each team member, including officials, at their doorsteps in India,” Dawood had told Lele and manager Dyaneshwar Agashe when they went out of the dressing room.
Sharjah’s cricket charm began to wane in the 1990s when match fixing scandals broke out, and although nothing was ever proved, sides started to move away. In 2001 the Indian government banned the national side from playing there. Between April 2003 and February 2010, the venue hosted no international games.