NEW DELHI: Delhi Police, who uncovered spot-fixing in the on-going Indian Premier League in cricket by arresting three Rajasthan Royals players, including Indian fast bowler Sreeshanth, and 11 bookies, on Wednesday say the hand of the Mumbai underworld in it is not ruled out.
The accused players were given up to Rs 60 lakh per over to bowl bad deliveries to give away runs as per the agreement with bookies.
After their arrest in Mumbai and other places, all the 14 were brought to Delhi and sent into police custody for five days by a court in Saket here even as Sreeshanth’s parents alleged the hand of Indian skipper Mohinder Singh Dhoni in `framing’ their son.
Apart from Sreeshanth, the two other Rajasthan Royal players arersted are Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila.
Since seven of the 11 bookies held from Mumbai are alleged to have links to the underworld don Dawood Ibrahim who is based in Karachi, Delhi Police commissioner Neeraj Kumar told a press conference here, “We had information that Mumbai underworld is indulging in match-fixing or spot-fixing and have contacted a number of bookies and some players.
“There are overseas connections and there is evidence to prove that the underworld is involved. But, there is no concrete evidence of any members of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim so far. But, it can’t be ruled out.’’
Police made the arrests after tracking calls of the players and bookies for over a month, with over two dozen calls coming from Pakistan.
The Delhi Police chief narrated how the nexus between bookies and the players worked. “Bookies told them (players) that they would have to give indications before start of an over about giving away runs. The indications included rotate your watch, put a towel in your trousers, take some time on looking around the field, take out a locket or chain from your shirt and lift vest or shirt.”
He said, “The first instance that came to our notice was Rajasthan Royals vs Pune Warriors on May 5. In this match, as already agreed upon, Chandila gave 14 runs in the second over of his spell but he forgot to give the predetermined signal due to which the bookies could not bet in this match.
“This led to an argument and demands for return of money. Rs 20 lakh was advanced to him and another 20 was to be given later. He had to return the money.’’
The next match in which spot-fixing took place was on May 9 in Mohali when Rajasthan Royals faced Kings XI Punjab.
“In this match, Sreesanth was to put a towel in his trousers before bowling the second over and give bookies enough time to indulge in heavy betting,” the Delhi Police chief said.
“As decided, Sreesanth bowled the first over without a towel. But in the second over he put a towel in his trousers and to give bookies time, he did some warm-up and stretching exercises. He gave 13 runs instead of the agreed 14 in his over,’’ the Delhi Police chief said.
Sreesanth operated through his close friend Jiju Janardhan who was in touch with a bookie named Chandresh Patel.
The Delhi Police chief said their police team was present in all these matches where spot-fixing was to take place as per the conversation between players and the bookies.
“Our team was present in all these matches. One of the reasons was because those signals could have been given during commercial breaks also, so, to keep track our team was watching the matches at the stadium,’’ Kumar said.
About the allegations by Sreesanth’s parents that India captain Mohinder Singh Dhoni has framed their son, the police chief said, “Dhoni did not put the towel in his (Sreeshanth’s) trouser.’’
He said the police used 100 hours of audio clippings and video clippings of the matches to prove the nexus in spot-fixing and arrest them.
The players face life ban and jail terms under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act.
Expressing shock over the arrest of three of his players for spot-fixing, Rajasthan Royals skipper Rahul Dravid said, “Our players are devastated that our performances may have been affected, as they have a desire to win that has been evident throughout the tournament.
“For me as a captain and leader, I have to focus on ensuring the team fulfil their enormous potential and continue to play in the Rajasthan Royals way.
“We as a team take a zero-tolerance view of the situation. The owners and management have made their zero-tolerance policy clear at every possible moment. I am sure they will support every action taken.”