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IPL 2017 betting probe revisits past dark chapters

The police arrests in Kanpur as part of an illegal betting racket connected to Indian Premier League is a fresh chapter after the T20 league was hit by the 2013 spot-fixing scandal, but BCCI’s anti-corruption unit has been alert and proactive this time.

ipl 2017 Updated: May 13, 2017 01:28 IST
Sanjjeev K Samyal
Sanjjeev K Samyal
Hindustan Times
ipl,ipl spot-fixing,ipl betting probe
The 2013 Indian Premier League spot-fixing case led to a life ban from playing for former India pace bowler, S Sreesanth, though the case was subsequently dropped by a Delhi court. The BCCI’s anti-corruption officials’ alertness has helped unearth the illegal betting sydicate targetting IPL 2017. (HT Photo)

Just when it looked like the Indian Premier League (IPL) would pass off peacefully, the money-spinning tournament has been left fighting the betting menace following the arrests made in Kanpur on Thursday.(DD vs RPS: T20 MATCH BLOG)

A BCCI insider informed that further investigation would be carried out by Kanpur Police. But the Indian Board is taking confidence from the fact that it is their Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) that has shown alertness and acted on the case.

There’s every chance more skeletons may tumble out of the cupboard. However, initial inquiry points to a new modus operandi of the illegal betting syndicate, which seems to be going after soft targets, luring them with money for inside information.

Like it happened during IPL 2013, when the current chief of BCCI’s ACSU, Neeraj Kumar, led the Delhi Police investigation into spot-fixing in the league.

Many controversies

While the IPL has grown in popularity in its 10 years, it has been plagued by corruption, spot-fixing and illegal betting. Indian cricket is still reeling from the IPL 2013 spot-fixing. A grim reminder is the absence of Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals, both serving two-year suspensions, after individuals from its team management were found guilty of indulging in illegal betting.

Read more | IPL betting case: How bookies fixed pitches with excess watering, explains cops

The IPL spot-fixing also engulfed the careers of talented India pacer S Sreesanth, left-arm spinner Ankit Chavan and Ajit Chandila, with all three RR players banned for life by the BCCI. The involvement of Gurunath Meiyappan, top CSK official, eventually led to the ouster of his father-in-law, N Srinivasan, as BCCI president.

Lessons learnt

However, the spot-fixing scandal led to increased vigilance and the current case was tracked by the BCCI’s ACSU. “We put a lot of emphasis on player education, including the staff and coaches, how they have to be alert all the while and report any suspicious approach,” said a source in the know-how of ACSU’s functioning. It helped as the players and other team members have become difficult to crack.

Read | Police arrest three after Kanpur IPL match over alleged involvement in betting

Last season, there was a case of a senior West Zone player who received an approach immediately notifying the ACSU, which put his number on surveillance.

The Kanpur case means the betting mafia continues undeterred. In the current case, the target of the betting mafia seems to have been pitch-fixing. The BCCI insider though argued it will be difficult to manipulate the playing surface as the chief curator oversees it. “The person caught is not the head curator; there is a team of groundsmen which works on the wicket.”

However, just being able to read the pitch is valuable knowledge for the betting mafia, especially in cases when the track plays different to what is expected.

‘Reading pitches tough’

Sometimes, it’s not easy to read the pitch even for the players and coaches, as Rising Pune Supergiant coach Stephen Fleming pointed out in his column in The Times of India.

“Conditions have not been traditional this season. Bangalore, for example, is a low-scoring ground. Mumbai was very dry with not a lot of dew while Kolkata produced a seaming wicket, with quite a bit of pace and bounce. Therefore, the key this year is to read the conditions and play accordingly. The expectations of fans may be based on past years but this edition of the IPL has seen the world’s best players struggle to score at the death,” wrote the former New Zealand skipper.

First Published: May 12, 2017 22:38 IST