India was shocked and angered when three top players in the multi-billion dollar Indian Premier League (IPL), which was racing to a grand finale, were arrested hours after the match on Wednesday on charges of match-fixing.
The arrested players all belonged to the Jaipur-based Rajasthan Royals, one of the top teams this season. The police also arrested 11 bookies, who allegedly paid over INR 1.2 crore ($ 0.2 million) to the three players for bowling one ‘fixed’ over each in three matches held over the past 10 days.
A significant amount of cash was recovered from the accused and links with the underworld are being probed, according to the police.
Spot fixing refers to the fixing of particular spots in a match, such as the outcome of a ball or an over as against match-fixing, which seeks to fix the outcome of the match itself.
As the credibility of the keenly-contested matches and last-ball finishes took a hit, the damage to Brand IPL seemed inevitable. The degree of the damage could depend on extent of the rot, said experts.
T Gangadhar, the MD of media agency MEC India said, “If the allegations are true, it can potentially damage the IPL brand.”
BCCI began the firefighting early by suspending the tainted players, S Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan, and referring the matter to a disciplinary committee headed by senior member Arun Jaitley. N Srinivasan, president BCCI, said, “It was a bolt from the blue. The BCCI is shocked that this has happened because we never expected this. We acted the moment we found out. We will take actions as per our rules and disciplinary procedures. I hope nobody else is involved. We will not tolerate corruption in cricket.”
In an official statement, the Rajasthan Royals also said they have zero-tolerance to “anything against the spirit of the game”. The statement added, “We will fully cooperate with the authorities to ensure a thorough investigation.”
BCCI is said to have taken some precautions ahead of the start of the league. A player from one of the other clubs said, “Before the start of any season, players are briefed regarding the kind of lucrative offers bookies can make and how one has to stay away from them. It is unfortunate if this turns out to be true.”
This is not the first time spot fixers have surfaced in the much-followed local league Last year, Hindi news channel India TV caught five players offering to do spot-fixing in a sting operation. All five players, TP Sudhindra (from the now-defunct Deccan Chargers), Mohnish Mishra (Pune Warriors), Amit Yadav, Shalabh Srivastava (Kings XI Punjab) and Abhinav Bali, a Delhi player, were suspended by IPL president Rajiv Shukla.
According to police, Chandila was caught in the act during the match against Pune Warriors on May 5 in Jaipur, Sreesanth gave away runs on bookies’ cues in Mohali, while Chavan’s misdoings occurred in the match against Mumbai.
Delhi police commissioner Neeraj Kumar said, “We have been working since April, and we have seen only three players involved. We let them do this, and waited for Chavan – whom we knew is a compromised player - to do what he wanted. Then we knew we won’t get more evidence. So we arrested them.”
Published in The Express Tribune, May 17th, 2013.
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