Court allowed police to quiz Indian Test pacer S. Sreesanth, two of his Rajasthan Royals teammates - Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila -- and 11 bookies, in their custody for five days. The three players are allegedly facing spot-fixing charges in at least three Indian Premier League games. The three cricketers, with their faces covered, were taken to the magistrate's residence inside the Saket district court complex.
While Sreesanth was arrested on Carter road in Mumbai, Chandila was picked up from Intercontinental Hotel, Mumbai while Chavan was arrested at the Trident Hotel, Mumbai. (Read: BCCI suspends players, Chandila's family cries foulplay). The police also arrested 11 bookies.
In a media briefing on Thursday afternoon, Delhi Police showed clippings of three matches where the players were involved in 'fixing' specific overs. According to Commissioner of Police Neeraj Kumar, Chandila, Sreesanth and Chavan leaked a 'pre-determined number of runs' in separate matches in return for huge sums of money from bookies.
The Police also read out transcripts of conversations between the cricketers and bookies and played out video clips where players gave 'indications' ahead of a 'fixed' over. While Chandila received Rs 20 lakh, Sreesanth and Chavan allegedly received Rs 40 lakh and Rs 50 lakh, respectively, for collaborating with the bookies or their agents.
Saying more than 100 hours of audio clippings were investigated, the Police chief said it was a coincidence that three players of the same team were involved. Police have been tracking phone calls of gullible players since April this year.
In what has been a Black Day for Indian cricket, top players expressed shock and dismay at the spot-fixing incident. (Also read: Gavaskar says Sreesanth an attention seeker, a distraction)
The Rajasthan Royals franchise, which is co-owned by Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty, said in statement that, "We are completely taken by surprise... We will fully cooperate with the authorities to ensure a thorough investigation. The management at Rajasthan Royals has a zero-tolerance approach to anything that is against the spirit of the game." (READ full statement)
Thirty-year-old Sreesanth, a veteran of 53 ODIs and 27 Tests, has been in controversy before over a fight with spinner Harbhajan Singh in the 2008 edition of the IPL.
Chandila, 29, has played for Haryana and the Delhi Daredevils in the IPL previously. Chavan, 27, has played for Mumbai.
Spot fixing is the manipulation of a particular ball or wicket in a cricket tournament, which is then betted upon.
Betting on sports is illegal in India but is allegedly big business in the IPL and is run by underground syndicates in Mumbai and other parts of the country. Sources said bookies often operate out of vehicles now to avoid detection.
Story first published on: Thursday, 16 May 2013 09:10 IST