"I guess match-fixers would be scared to approach me, given the way I am known to react."
Mohammed Azharuddin in an interview to Rediff on the Net.
That blistering statement by India's former cricket captain Mohammed Azizuddin Azharuddin in December 1998 sounds mindlessly hollow in retrospect, considering the slew of match-fixing allegations that have stuck on to him with or without evidence. His image had long gone into a free-fall, with most tending to see him as a Hyderabadi Machiavelli in cricket flannels.
Unsubstantiated rumours of his involvement in match-fixing have been swirling about for some time. But Hansiegate galvanised the country's investigative agencies to dig deep. Now, with Hansie Cronje's confession to the King Commission that Azhar had dispatched Mukesh Gupta and Hamid Cassim to fix matches, it could well signal the last nail in his coffin.
Today, the CBI, Income-Tax Department and the Enforcement Directorate are probing a deluge of accusations against Azhar. A sampling of some of the leads being pursued: