Cricket fans hold placards and shout slogans at a protest against spot-fixing of cricket. AP photo
Was there any role of cricketers from Uttar Pradesh in the spot-fixing scandal, which has hit the cash-rich Indian T20 League as well as the Indian cricket very badly?
Even if not, the investigating agencies, including the Delhi Police and the Mumbai Crime Branch along with UP Police, are keeping a close ‘watch’ on all the 10 cricketers from the state who took part in the recently concluded tournament, including Chennai Super Kings’ Suresh Raina, Pune Warriors’ Bhuvaneshwar Kumar and Rudra Pratap Singh of Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Besides these three, others who were part of different teams in this year’s Indian Twenty20 League include Ali Murtaza (Pune Warriors), Praveen Kumar, Piyush Chawla (both for Kings XI Punjab), Imtiaz Ahmed and Ankit Singh Rajput (both for Chennai Super Kings) and Eklavya Dwivedi (Pune Warriors).
Confirming this, ADG (law and order) Arun Kumar said UP Police were indeed investigating the issue.
“We are working independently on the leads provided by our agencies and so far we have successfully busted gangs involved in betting in Varanasi, Meerut, Kanpur and Ghaziabad.” “It’s true we are continuing our investigations and several people involved in the racket are on our radar,” he said.
He adding, “Right now, we can’t share the details of the investigations, and people involved in spot-fixing and betting are likely to be nabbed soon.” He, however, accepted that if required, UP Police would also coordinate with the Delhi and Mumbai police.
Meanwhile, an officer in the Special Task Force (STF) claimed that along with cricketers, activity of coaches and the local sponsors were also being watched. “We have been tipped about the possible involvement of some of the players and coaches from state.”
“We have reports of a player bowling a no-ball on the very last ball of a match between Chennai Super Kings and Royal Challengers Bangalore,” he said adding, “let’s see what happens once we complete our investigations.”
“Since the investigating agencies in Delhi and Mumbai are analyzing every match of the Indian T20 League, we can’t rule out the involvement of players even from UP in dealing with bookies or betting in the matches,” the STF officer said.
Besides the regular ones, many former domestic cricketers are also under the surveillance. One of the former cricketers has in fact confirmed the tapping of his phone since the spot-fixing scandal surfaced last week.
“I have been told by some close friend of mine in the police that my phone was also under surveillance, and it’s really a matter of great concern for me. I didn’t involve myself in any such activities like fixing or betting even when I was playing for UP,” said the former batsman.
He, however, accepted that many of the uncapped players, who didn’t get even a single match this season or played just a few matches, were the easy catch for the bookies and fixers. “Even while sitting among the reserves, you can have all information about the team’s planning etc. and passing those information through text messages are quite easy for anyone.”