Some players of Kings XI Punjab may have indulged in “suspicious activities linked to throwing matches”, the Indian Premier League (IPL) team’s co-owner Preity Zinta told BCCI officials during a meeting this month.
Zinta also told officials who attended the meeting of BCCI’s IPL working group on August 8 that the Indian board’s anti-corruption team has not been able to effectively tackle the menace, The Indian Express reported on Wednesday.
On Wednesday, Zinta described the report as "completely false, libel per say (sic), inaccurate and an irresponsible piece of journalism". In a post on Facebook and Twitter, she questioned the sources for the report and said she was proud to be part of Kings XI Punjab.
"We have the best team & support staff & under No circumstance will I tolerate slander towards me or my team, specially when it comes to our Integrity. I will sincerely appreciate it, if responsible media do not try to damage our reputation & business by fueling this false article," she wrote in the post .
In the report, the daily quoted its sources as saying that Zinta told the meeting she had seen such activities from close quarters and wanted to speak earlier about them but possessed no proof.
Zinta said she had felt at times that some IPL matches involving her team had followed a “pre-decided pattern”, according to the report.
Apart from stakeholders in the league, the meeting was attended by all four members of the working group – IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla, BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur, BCCI treasurer Anirudh Chaudhary and former India captain Sourav Ganguly.
The BCCI formed the group on July 21 to devise a roadmap for the ninth edition of IPL after studying the implications of the Justice R M Lodha Committee’s report on corruption in the league and its order suspending Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals for two years.
Shukla and Thakur were not available for comment. The Indian Express tried to reach Zinta for more than a week through the Kings XI Punjab management and her publicist but could not obtain a response. “Zinta could not be reached as she was travelling,” said a spokesperson.
The daily quoted its sources as saying that Zinta told officials that she learnt about “suspicious activities” in the league after people predicted the outcome of a game or a period of play in her presence, and they proved accurate.
The actor further told officials she had been a psychology student and could comprehend body language and read the mind of players, sources said.
She claimed she had pulled up players who she thought were not “playing fair, dropped them from games and even put them up for auction”, the sources said.
Zinta said she “even confronted a player angrily over this issue once and tipped off other franchises about the players she suspected”, sources said.
Asked by officials why she failed to report her suspicions to the BCCI’s Anti-Corruption Security Unit, Zinta replied the unit could only stop players from talking to someone or curb their movements, sources said.
The IPL working group, being assisted by BCCI’s legal advisor U N Banerjee, is expected to submit a final report at a meeting of the board’s working committee in Kolkata on August 28.