New Delhi/Mumbai: The cricketing world was again shamed today as three Rajasthan Royals players, including India fast bowler S. Sreesanth, were arrested in Mumbai for their alleged involvement in spot-fixing in the Indian Premier League (IPL) that could well have its links with the Mumbai underworld.
Besides the 30-year-old Sreesanth, who has featured in 27 Tests and 53 ODIs, the other two cricketers arrested by the Delhi Police late yesterday are his Rajasthan Royals colleagues Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) immediately suspended the trio pending further enquiry.
Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar said the three players, who were flown to Delhi, were involved in spot-fixing in matches on May 5, May 9 and yesterday night against Mumbai Indians. Police have also arrested 11 bookies from Delhi, Mumbai and Ahmedabad.
“The arrests were made after we listened to taped conversations of hundreds of hours,” Neeraj Kumar told reporters in Delhi.
Chandila was involved in spot-fixing during the May 5 match against Pune Warriors, Sreesanth in the May 9 game against Kings XI Punjab and Chavan against Mumbai Indians in Mumbai, yesterday night.
Rajasthan comfortably won its matches against Pune and Punjab but lost the game against Mumbai by 14 runs.
Neeraj Kumar said Chandila also acted as a go-between Chavan and the bookmakers for spot-fixing the match against Mumbai Indians. Chavan was promised Rs.60 lakh for giving away 14 runs in his second over of the game.
Chandila was promised Rs.40 lakh for giving away 14 or more runs in his second over. Chandila, who was given Rs.20 lakhs in advance, gave away 14 runs in the over but had to return the advance since he couldn’t signal the bookies well in time.
Chandila had to pull up his t-shirt and look at the sky before the start of his second over but he failed to give the signal, Neeraj Kumar said.
He said spot fixing codes like tucking in a towel, rotating a watch and wearing a wrist band were given by the bookies to the players.
During the game against Kings XI Punjab, Sreesanth tucked a towel into his trouser right before his second over to signal the bookies and also did some stretching to give them ample time to place heavy bets. Sreesanth gave away 13 runs against the agreed to 14, but was still paid Rs.40 lakhs.
The Delhi Police made the arrests after yesterday night’s game when Chavan gave away 15 runs in his second over for Rs.60 lakhs. Chavan was asked by the bookies to give away 14 runs or more during the over.
Sreesanth was arrested from Carter Road in Bandra, Chandila was picked up from InterContinental Hotel and Chavan from Trident Hotel, both in south Mumbai. Two bookies were also arrested from the InterContinental Hotel.
Mumbai police sources told the arrests were made on the basis of tracking phone calls, at least two dozen of which originated from Pakistan.
Sources said the two bookies arrested from Mumbai are allegedly linked to mafia don Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar, who is understood to be in Pakistan. Dawood is believed to be a veteran in cricket betting and match-fixing.
BCCI president N.Srinivasan was shocked at the arrest of the three cricketers but defended the IPL.
“One or two bad eggs here and there cannot sully the entire game. I don’t think it is a case of players not having enough money. If at all, you can call it greed. We have to objectively examine what further steps can we take and how we can demonstrate that these things don’t pay at all. I don’t subscribe to the view that the IPL is untenable,” Srinivasan told reporters in Mumbai via a video-conference call from Chennai.
Rajasthan Royals readily agreed to co-operate with the investigations.
“We are in touch with the BCCI on this matter. We will fully cooperate with the authorities to ensure a thorough investigation. The management at Rajasthan Royals has a zero-tolerance approach to anything that is against the spirit of the game,” a Rajasthan Royals statement said.
Last year, the BCCI had suspended Shalabh Srivastava, Mohnish Mishra, T.P. Sudhindra, Amit Yadav and Abhinav Bali for spot-fixing in the IPL that was revealed in a sting operation by a TV channel.
Spot fixing first came to light in 2010 when three Pakistani cricketers – Mohammad Asif, Mohammed Aamir and then skipper Salman Butt – were arrested during the Test series in England.
The trio were alleged to have carried out specific on-field actions, including bowling no-balls at pre-determined times, for payment during the Lord’s Test. The International Cricket Council (ICC) later handed them long bans and they were also convicted and sentenced to spells of detention in Britain.