Police have not ruled out complicity among players from other franchises

Shocking revelations have emerged, during the ongoing probe into the spot-fixing scandal, from bookies who stayed in the hotels where suspended IPL players were putting up ahead of matches under investigation. The probe being “open ended”, police have not ruled out complicity among more players from other IPL franchisees.

A senior officer refused to divulge the names of other IPL cricketers whose activities were under watch, adding that the police had not, however, come across any evidence against these players. The official said bookies and their conduits had easy access to the players. They even stayed at the same hotel and would hold meetings at the premises. “There were no restrictions whatsoever. The players could, without any problems, meet women, attend late-night parties and consume liquor [whenever they pleased],” said the officer.

The bookies followed the players everywhere. They would fly down to the places where the matches were held and be present inside the stadiums to keep a watch on the cricketers and alert their conduits to start receiving bets as soon as the players gave out the coded signals.

Substantiating the allegations, the officer said Sreesanth had, following a match on May 9 — during which the pacer had allegedly under-performed at the instance of the bookies — consumed liquor and fought with Paddy Upton, head coach of the Rajasthan Royals team. Taking the matter seriously, the team management suspended Sreesanth from the squad for the next three matches.

In Mumbai, the Rajasthan Royals team members had stayed at Hotel Trident. However, Sreesanth and his close aide Jiju Janardhanan checked into Sofitel Hotel following the former’s tiff with the team coach.

Police investigations have also revealed that during the tournament’s 2012 edition, cricketer Ajit Chandila was allegedly paid an initial sum of Rs.12 lakh by bookies for fixing spots. However, he could only play four matches during the season. “That year, he did not want to take a risk during the first few matches and was later dropped from the playing squad. Thereafter, bookie Sunil Bhatia asked him to pay back the amount,” said the officer.

“Interestingly, Chandila issued three cheques for Rs.4 lakh each to Bhatia. Two of the cheques were issued on December 10 last year and February 10 this year. While the two cheques bounced, the third one was honoured. The two dishonoured cheques have been recovered from Bhatia. We are in the process of gathering details about the cheque through which part payment was made to the bookie from Chandila’s bank account,” said the officer.

Bhatia had contacted Chandila via Baburao Yadav, Manish Guddewar and others operating from Nagpur. “The bookies zeroed in on Chandila again after he bagged a hat-trick last year and was expected to play more IPL matches. Investigations are under way to ascertain if the cricketer had purchased properties [with] the ill-gotten money,” said the officer.

In all, 18 people have been arrested in the case so far.

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