Fugitive gangster Dawood Ibrahim's love for cricket is not limited to his family relationship with former Pakistan cricketer Javed Miandad.
He likes to watch every match India or Pakistan is involved in, and never misses an opportunity to make money through gambling.
It is this passion for cricket and gambling that made Dawood groom a network of gamblers, bookies and fixers who operated out of Mumbai in the 80s and 90s, said police officials. Dawood's focus on cricket betting gained momentum again when the first edition of the T20 league was launched in India.
No wonder then that for officials investigating the latest instance of spot-fixing in the league, it does not come as a surprise that Dawood's name has again come to prominence.
“Dawood's intricate and extremely secretive network involves prominent figures in the world of cricket, as well as industrialists and businessmen who either still owe allegiance to him or are scared of the gangster. The arrests made now, or in the past, have only skimmed the surface,” said a police officer requesting anonymity.
Earlier, the syndicate was handled by his key financier, Sharad Shetty. But after Shetty was shot dead in a hotel in Dubai in 2003, Dawood's match-fixing business took a back seat.
A few of his henchmen including Salim Chiplun tried to run the syndicate, but could not retain the clout Shetty had. It was then that Dawood asked his brother Anees Ibrahim to take over the reins of his betting syndicate.
Anees, police sources said, capitalised on the opportunity with his trademark brutality and put the likes of Nayyer, Master and Javed, Zafar alias Jojo in Pakistan, Sunil Mirchandani alias Sunil Dubai in Dubai, and Hiren alias Jupiter and Junior Kolkatta in Mumbai in charge of the show.
The D-Company's role in match-fixing or spot-fixing in the current T20 league is further highlighted as the Delhi Special Cell that is investigating the latest spot-fixing is trying to track down bookies Tinku Delhi, Dr Saab, JK Delhi and Mandi Delhi. Police sources said these bookies owe allegiance to Junior Kolkatta, who operates out of Lokhandwala in Mumbai.