The rot in Indian cricket may run deeper than initially feared. Delhi Police detained one more former cricketer-turned-bookmaker on Monday and its officials made the startling claim that every team in the domestic T20 league may have been infiltrated by bookie “modules”.
These hints of a substantial widening of the investigation five days after the arrest of Rajasthan Royals cricketers S Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan for spot-fixing came even as a money trail finally emerged. Chandila was taken by police to his aunt’s house in Faridabad where a search of his kit bag revealed a stash of Rs 20 lakh.
One key focus of the police investigation seems to be former players who may now be small-time bookies and act as conduits between cricketers and bigger bookies.Sources said the detention of former Vidarbha Ranji Trophy player Baburao Yadav on Monday — close on the heels of fellow state player Manish Guddewar on Sunday — proved how failed cricketers are trying to use their links with more successful former teammates or friends to make a quick buck.
The police claimed they had reason to believe that the newly formed teams and those that had not performed consistently over the years were at highest risk of infiltration by cricketer-bookies.
“Though it would be premature to speculate on the names of these teams or the players who might be involved, we will communicate these apprehensions to the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) and leave it up to them to take a call,” said a highly placed Delhi Police official.
The police are likely to seek a three-day extension of custody of the three arrested cricketers, who are housed the office of the Special Cell in south Delhi. The investigation is proceeding apace, with forensic laboratories being brought into play.
“Voice samples of Chavan and Chandila were deposited at the CBI’s forensic laboratory on Lodhi Road. These will be matched with excerpts of the intercepted telephonic conversations that we have of the three accused players,” said an officer.
“The rest of those arrested, including the bookies, will also be matched with the telephonic intercepts over the coming days.”
The BCCI’s anti-corruption unit (ACU) chief Ravi Sawani had what he termed a “fruitful meeting” with Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar even as the management of the Rajasthan Royals lodged an official complaint of cheating against Chandila, Chavan and Sreesanth and terminated their contracts.
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