Mumbai:The Indian Premier League (IPL) matches you have been keenly following for most of the past two months have been fixed, according to an income tax (I-T) report. Worse still, by none other than your cricketing idols.
Shockingly, those involved in fixing the matches are superstars of Indian cricket and even an international player, who is a captain of one of the teams, according to a top official in Delhi who is part of the I-T team investigating the alleged IPL scam. Some team owners too are allegedly involved.
Thankfully, the Big Three of Indian cricket -- Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid -- are clean and above this muck, the I-T investigator revealed.
The report (a copy of which is with MiD DAY) says, "During IPL, the match fixing and betting racket has scaled new heights."
Some seniors have allegedly been influencing juniors, often from their own regions, to fix matches. Probably for the first time in cricketing history, senior and junior cricketers playing in rival teams jointly fixed the outcome of matches, the official said. A clear pattern has supposedly emerged where a particular bowler has bowled easy deliveries and dropped catches, while his 'partner in crime' went on a scoring spree.
Investigating teams from I-T and the Enforcement Directorate are analysing phone records of some of the franchises after match-fixing speculations. Investigators are checking the phone records of several personalities who had access to VIP enclosures during IPL matches.
One of the persons mentioned in the I-T report is Samir Thukral, who, according to the report, "has an opulent lifestyle despite having no apparent source of income" and "carries out the betting on behalf of Lalit Modi where insider information as well as outcome fixing are hinted at".
About the IPL chairman's involvement, the I-T report says, "Lalit Modi is apparently deeply embroiled in both generation of black money, money laundering, betting in cricket (match fixing of certain IPL matches)."
While the report says that Thukral "is a permanent fixture at all IPL tournament matches", he told MiD DAY that he had attended only one match this season.
In an e-mail, Thukral said, "I would like to state that Lalit Modi is an old friend from college days and I have known him for over 30 years. However, I have no business or financial dealings with him or the IPL of any sort.
Also, in the last eight to 10 months I have only had the opportunity to meet him once. I strongly refute the allegations which are being made against me in the news; there is no truth in any of them."
A bookie, who did not wish to be named, revealed, "The stakes are so high that all operators want a share of the income. The value of IPL is well over Rs 6,000 crore and betting during each match is estimated at around Rs 500 crore. Some members of the underworld are believed to have secretly invested in the teams."