Sreesanth, other Rajasthan Royals players in IPL spot-fixing row

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Delhi police special cell arrested three cricketers of the Rajasthan Royals team, including test-discard Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, in a late night raid on Wednesday after surveillance confirmed telephonic talks between bookies in India and Pakistan over betting in the ongoing T20 tournament.

In a swift follow-up, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) ordered suspension of the three till further inquiry. The trio would be produced before a court in Delhi.

sreesanth spot fixing Sreesanth, other Rajasthan Royals players in IPL spot fixing row

Sreesanth was arrested from his friend’s house, while spinners Ankit Chavan and Ajit Chandila were picked up from the team hotel in Mumbai. Apart from the cricketers, seven bookies from Mumbai and two from Delhi have also been arrested, police sources said. Raids were on to nab two more bookies in Delhi.

In a statement, BCCI secretary Sanjay Jagdale said, “The BCCI is shocked and saddened at the recent developments. The BCCI has zero tolerance to corruption. We will offer all cooperation to the Delhi police and all other authorities in their investigations in this matter. The IPL Governing Council has met and decided that the cricketers found involved will be dealt with severely.” He said, “It is wholly unfortunate that despite best playing conditions and terms of engagement offered, some players seem to be indulging in such activity.”

All the three would be produced before a court in Delhi.

Meanwhile, Sreesanth’s father Shantakumaran Nair has squarely blamed Indian captain Mahinder Singh Dhoni and Harbhajan Singh for implicating his son in the match-fixing scandal. He said his son was the victim of a larger conspiracy.

The Mumbai crime branch, which arrested three top bookies, said that a well-established link with some bookies in Pakistan, has been established. It is not ruling out the possibility of the underworld links.

Discussing the lead, police sources said the calls between India and Pakistan bookies were not disconnected till the end of the Wednesday night match with Mumbai Indians. Around Rs. 400 crore was betted per match on the current T-20 tournament. Everything, right from match result, sixes hit, balls bowled, was up for betting, the sources said and added another former Indian test-discard, who bawled no-balls at a crucial juncture in a match, was also under the scanner.

The arrests were made after the special cell of the Delhi Police conducted months of investigation into alleged spot-fixing in the T20 league. The cricketers were arrested for spot-fixing in matches played this week and the last, said police sources.

Of the three bookies arrested, Ramesh Vyas had earlier been collared in 2005 in a similar betting case with notorious bookie Shobhan Kalachowkie. Vyas is a resident of Napeansea road in South Mumbai, and is believed to be in the same league as top Indian bookies, including Jupiter, Kothari and Bunty.

Jupiter is on the list of bookies wanted by the Delhi special cell, the sources said.

It is for the first time over a decade that Indian cricket players have come under scrutiny or have been arrested. The match-fixing scandal of the late 90s and early 2000 had seen some top Indian cricketers being arrested and banned from playing cricket.

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