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More cricketers, matches under scanner in spot-fixing probe

The role of more players whose names cropped up during interrogation of the arrested cricketers and bookies in the spot-fixing scandal could be probed, Delhi Police said today, as six bookies were held in Tamil Nadu in connection with another betting racket.

india Updated: May 17, 2013 21:53 IST
T20 league spot-fixing scandal,Sreesanth,Ankit Chavan

The role of more players whose names cropped up during interrogation of the arrested cricketers and bookies in the T20 league spot-fixing scandal could be probed, Delhi Police said on Friday, as six bookies were held in Tamil Nadu in connection with another betting racket.

Police claimed that pacer Sreesanth and Ankit Chavan -- two of the three arrested Rajasthan Royals players -- have "confessed" to the spot-fixing charge but the lawyers of the two cricketers denied their involvement.

Delhi Police is also likely to probe some more T20 league matches in the current season even as Sreesanth, Chavan and Ajit Chandila -- also a Rajasthan player -- along with 11 other arrested bookies were subjected to interrogation by its Special Cell.

Asked whether women were used to trap or lure players in the spot-fixing racket, sources replied in the affirmative.

It has also emerged that the arrested bookies tried to lure three players, including two foreigners, with the help of Chandila, to be part of the spot-fixing racket.

The players - Brad Hogg, Kevin Cooper and Siddharth Trivedi - however, spurned their invite to join a party at Jaipur for clinching the deal, the sources said.

Sources said Sreeshant, Chavan and Amit Singh, a cricketer-turned-bookie, broke into tears when they were being grilled by the police sleuths.

From the investigations so far since the arrests on Thursday, Chandila is emerging as the main accused among the three cricketers while Chandresh Patel is believed to be the key link among the bookies.

As investigators in Delhi went into the bottom of the spot-fixing scandal that has sparked an outrage, Tamil Nadu police claimed to have busted a separate betting racket relating to T20 League matches with the arrest of six bookies in Chennai and recovered Rs 14 lakh in cash.

The suspected mastermind was operating from Delhi, Crime Branch-CID SPs Perumal and S Rajeshwari told reporters in Chennai. The arrests followed searches at 13 locations in Chennai based on a tip-off.

Sreesanth's lawyer insisted his client is "totally innocent."

Speaking to reporters, Deepak Prakash said, "Sreesanth has been falsely or mistakenly arrested. They (Delhi Police) have got some wrong information or mistakenly arrested him."

Sreesanth and the other two cricketers were arrested in a post-midnight operation in Mumbai on Thursday by Delhi Police for spot-fixing T20 League matches for payments of upto Rs 60 lakh just for giving away pre-determined number of runs in an over.

Rajiv Shankar Dwivedi, the lawyer who appeared for Chandila and Chauhan, claimed that they were completely innocent.

They "have nothing to do with this controversy. All illegal and wrongful procedures were adopted by the police to trap them. The police have no evidence against them. They have been wrongly trapped," he said.

During interrogation in Delhi, the three arrested cricketers put the blame on the other accused, sources said.

Sreesanth blamed it on Jiju, a club-level player from Kerala whose matches were attended by the Indian pacer regularly while Chavan said Chandila was responsible.

Chandila, who is alleged to be under debt, had chosen the bookie route for earning a quick buck. Police also had managed to intercept a telephone conversation between Chandila and his wife.

"The wife asked him where was he getting so much money when the team was losing. He told her to keep the money whatever he gives," the sources said.

The investigators questioning the cricketers claimed the players were difficult and knew how to mislead on being cornered by the sleuths.

The investigators said that some of the previous matches were also being examined by the Delhi police as the arrested accused have indicated that they too had been fixed at the instance of bookies.

Police said there were also suspicions about a match in the previous year of the T20 domestic League tournament in which the Rajasthan Royals lost a match after its two batsmen could not score 12 runs in 12 balls even when eight wickets were in hand.

This input came after an arrested bookie Amit Singh, who played in the last T20 edition for Rajasthan Royals and was not allowed to participate this time due to a suspected bowling action, flagged doubts about it during interrogation.

During interrogation of the three players -- Sreesanth, Chavan and "main player link" Chandila -- and 11 bookies, sources said it has come to light that the bookies also had plans for spot fixing during a match between Rajasthan Royals and Kolkata Knight Riders.

Sreesanth and Chandila were to give 28 runs in successive overs but they could not play.

However, it did not go as per plans since Sreesanth and Chandila were not in the playing 11.

According to police sources, three bookies -- Chandresh Patel, Amit Singh and another person-- met Chandila on April six in Gurgaon and brought him in on board for betting. They told Chandila that they will pay Rs 20 lakh or more for one over.

A series of calls and meetings followed during which Chandila was asked to rope in three more players -- Bradd Hogg, Kevin Cooper and Siddharth Trivedi -- and invite them for a party in Jaipur.

"However, these players refused the invitation and the party was called off. But Chandila managed to convince Chavan to be part of the gang. Chavan told him that he will get involved after a few matches," a senior police official said.

Patel was alleged to be the main bookie while Chandila was the main link among players, sources said.

On Sreesanth, sources said, a bookie Manan got in touch with the pacer's close friend Jiju. "It was Jiju who acted as a go-between. Sreesanth has told us this," they said.

Meanwhile, Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar met home secretary RK Singh and briefed him about the case.

After the meeting, he told reporters, there is no definite proof about the involvement of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim or anyone based in Dubai.

"We have said that a Dubai number was used. A Dubai number was used to make calls. Number could have been used from India itself or from some other country. We have not named this group or that," he said.

Police sources said Chavan was the first to break down during questioning.

On Thursday night, Sreesanth did not have dinner in custody while all the other arrested had food. The Kerala pace bowler had rice and rajma this morning.

Sources said Chavan accepted that he made a mistake.

First Published: May 17, 2013 21:36 IST