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'Dhoni lied to Mudgal panel, Meiyappan was in regular touch'

columns Updated: Nov 21, 2014 12:54 IST
Mudgal report

The most disturbing feature of Justice Mukul Mudgal's report is not that the top Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) officials are complicit in wrongdoing, but that the malaise may have spread and in the process compromised India's most powerful cricketer.

Let us not focus here on N Srinivasan and his band of merry men; enough has been written about their "misdeeds" and the disdain with which they treat serious charges against them.

I, like a million others, am curious to know who are Individuals 2 and 3 referred to in the report, and why have they been mentioned.

The report says that Individual 2 met Gurunath Meiyappan in his hotel room a number of times.

Why should this constitute a crime? If he is a Chennai Super Kings (CSK) player he is bound to meet a man acting as a team official. To decipher this mystery, one has to go back to the first report on the basis of which the Supreme Court had ordered a second probe.

Nailing the lie

In it, India and CSK captain MS Dhoni was recorded as saying that Meiyappan was not playing the role of a team official and Dhoni had not or rarely met him outside the playing field. But the Mudgal panel felt Dhoni had lied, and this point was heatedly debated in the court.

In their second report, when the panel says that Individual 2 met Meiyappan a number of times in his hotel room, it should become clear who this player is and why this "trivial" fact is significant.

It shows Meiyappan was in regular touch with the captain, and that the captain had lied to the Mudgal panel.

This leads to a second question the answer to which we are not privy to, as none of us has seen the second report which has been given in a sealed envelope to the Court. That report mentions the names of players who may be involved in various "misdemeanours" if one may put it so.

It was reported last year that Rhiti Sports, which represents various business interests of Dhoni, may, in fact, be owned by the captain himself.

Doubts were raised about where Arun Pandey, an Indian Airlines employee when he founded the company and signed Dhoni for a Rs 200 crore three-year deal, got the funds from.

Later it was reported that Dhoni had bought 30,000 shares in the company and sold them back a month later. It would be extremely disappointing if the probe led by BB Mishra, a very honest and competent police officer, has not gone into this.

Imagine a captain having stakes in a company which looks after the business interests of various other cricketers!

Covering up?

Now to Individual 3. Why would the Board cover up his code violation and why should it find a mention in the report? Individual 3, by all accounts, seems to be a CSK and an important India player, especially in one-dayers.

The incident occurred in Sri Lanka a few years ago, when the player, according to board sources, got a woman into his hotel room at night and the anti-corruption unit reported this matter to BCCI, suspecting a "honey trap".

The probe panel deemed it important to mention this as the BCCI (read Srinivasan) chose not to take any action. It is being reported that Ranjib Biswal, who was the India team manager on that tour, has defended the BCCI, saying that action had been taken and the player was reprimanded.

If so, it would be interesting to find if Biswal, a close confidant of Srinivasan, said this to the probe panel as well, or are his utterances now an afterthought?

There is also speculation that one key player of India's World Cup-winning team has been named for being involved with bookies.

First the officials and now even the players - there can't be a more damning indictment of Indian cricket.