IPL scandal shocking, says Tendulkar

New Delhi/Mumbai, May 31 (IANS) Cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar Friday described the Indian Premier League (IPL) spot fixing scandal as “shocking and disappointing” as police continued their probe and a Mumbai court extended the police custody of Gurunath Meiyappan and Vindoo Dara Singh Randhawa.

Tendulkar spoke for the first time on the issue that has taken the game by storm.

“It has always hurt me when the game of cricket is in the news for the wrong reasons. The developments in the last two weeks have been shocking and disappointing,” he said in a statement.

“As cricketers, we are always taught to go out, fight hard, give our very best and play in the true spirit of the game,” Tendulkar said.

The ace batsman urged the authorities “to take sincere steps to get to the root of the issue”.

Three IPL players, including Indian pacer S. Sreesanth, Bollywood actor Vindoo Dara Singh and Gurunath Meiyappan — son-in-law of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president N. Srinivasan — have been arrested for spot fixing and betting in cricket.

“During this difficult phase, I join every cricketer, from the boys in the maidans across the country to those who represent clubs, states and the country, who trust the authorities to take sincere steps to get to the root of the issue,” Tendulkar said.

“The faith reposed by the millions of fans should be justified and we owe it to them to ensure that Indian cricket is all about pride and joy,” he added.

Tendulkar, who has announced his retirement from IPL, played for Mumbai Indians, which won this year’s tournament.

A Mumbai court Friday extended till June 3 the police custody of Meiyappan and Vindoo Dara Singh, bookie Prem Taneja and hawala operator Alpesh Patel.

The police sought further custody of the four to enable them to unravel the nexus between the accused and some absconding bookies such as Sanjay Jaipur, Pawan Jaipur and Jupiter, also wanted in the fixing case.

Additional Metropolitan Magistrate A.A. Khan granted the police plea, rejecting the defence lawyers’ arguments that the offences under which the accused were booked were bailable, and they had already spent sufficient time in police custody.

Police said a team has been sent to Goa to bring bookie Paresh Bhatia to Delhi, allegedly linked to some of the accused in the case.

In a related development, Chennai hotelier Vikram Agarwal appeared before Mumbai police in response to a summons issued two days ago, and recorded his detailed statement.

Agarwal, who was allegedly running a betting a syndicate in Chennai, is said to be a link between Meiyappan, Vindoo and other Bollywood celebrities.

A senior police official said in Delhi that Rajasthan Royals cricketer Siddharth Trivedi was being questioned in connection with investigations into spot fixing.

He said Trivedi, whose IPL teammates colleagues Sreesanth, Chavan and Chandila have been arrested, was offered a bribe for spot fixing.

Trivedi was contacted by a bookie during the IPL but declined to accept the bribe for spot fixing in the matches, the official said.

Trivedi might be presented before court as a witness in the IPL spot fixing case, the source added.

Meanwhile, two top BCCI officials resigned from their posts on moral grounds Friday night.

BCCI secretary Sanjay Jagdale and treasurer Ajay Shirke resigned saying that they were “hurt”, “disturbed” and “not comfortable” in continuing, piling on the pressure on board president N. Srinivasan’s ouster.

There are also reports that all five BCCI vice presidents — Niranjan Shah (west zone), Sudhir Dabir (central), Chitrak Mitra (east), Arun Jaitley (north) and N. Shivlal Yadav (south) — will also resign.

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