Calcutta/Mumbai: Former captain Dilip Vengsarkar on Monday made a startling revelation about underworld don Dawood Ibrahim entering the Indian dressing room and offering the players cars if they beat Pakistan in the final of the Austral-Asia Cup in Sharjah in April 1986.
Vengsarkar claimed that Dawood had walked into the team’s dressing room a day before the match and offered each player a Toyota car if they beat Pakistan and won the tournament.
Vengsarkar said the fugitive gangster was introduced by the famous actor Mehmood as a businessman. However, Dawood was asked by then captain Kapil Dev to walk out of the dressing room.
“Actor Mehmood was in our dressing room. Kapil Dev was not in the dressing room at that time because he had gone out to address the press conference. Dawood was introduced by actor Mehmood,” Vengsarkar said at a function in Jalgaon.
“No one recognised him but I had seen his photographs. Mehmood introduced him to us as a big businessman from Sharjah. Mehmood said he wants to announce a prize for us. He said, ‘if you beat Pakistan tomorrow, everyone will get a car’. Jayawant Lele was our manager then,” he added.
Vengsarkar went on to add that the offer was rejected. Kapil apparently was peeved at seeing an outsider inside the dressing room and immediately asked him to leave the place.
Till the Mumbai blasts in 1993, Dawood had been a regular at matches in Sharjah. He also had a ‘box’ in his name in the upper tier of the main pavilion at the stadium.
Mehmood, too, used to be a regular outside the dressing room in his hometown Bangalore. Dressed in all white, he used to watch the action sitting there.
Meanwhile, media reports quoting a Hindi TV channel say that Kapil corroborated the fact that Dawood did visit the Indian dressing room. “Yes, I remember a gentleman walking into our dressing room in a game in Sharjah and wanting to talk to the players,” Kapil said.
Incidentally, former BCCI secretary Lele, who died last month, had also mentioned the incident in his book, I was There — Memoirs of a Cricket Administrator.
“As bad luck would have it, India lost the tournament… After the results were declared most team members were not in tears, but that man (Dawood) was!” wrote Lele.
“After a long gap, we came to know that the man who met us in Sharjah was Dawood Ibrahim, the alleged mastermind of the dastardly Mumbai blasts in 1993.
“The matter of that contact with us somehow surfaced during police investigations and I was taken aback. When the police interrogated me, I trembled. However, I frankly and matter-of-fact admitted we met, and told them at that time we had naturally no idea about his background or future activities, and did not even know his name. I added that I had met the man there for the first and last time and I had even forgotten the incident. I could not have recognised him thereafter! The police fortunately believed me,” wrote Lele.
The match will be best remembered for the last-ball six hit by Javed Miandad.
Batting first in the final, India made 245 for seven in their 50 overs. Sunil Gavaskar top scored with 92 and had put on 117 in an opening stand with Krish Srikkant (75). Pakistan won by one wicket. Needing four runs to win off the last ball, Javed Miandad hit a six off Chetan Sharma to seal the victory.