Cricket

Former Ranji cricketers Gautam, Abrar Kazi held in Karnataka Premier League betting scam

Cricketers CM Gautam, left and Abrar Kazi.

Cricketers CM Gautam, left and Abrar Kazi.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

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Got ₹20 lakh to bat slow in KPL, say police.

The Central Crime Branch (CCB) on Thursday arrested Ballari Tuskers players C.M. Gautam and Abrar Kazi in connection with the match-fixing and betting scam in the Karnataka Premier League. 

Both cricketers have been accused of receiving ₹20 lakh from bookies to ‘bat slow’ in the 2019 KPL final between Ballari Tuskers and Hubli Tigers on August 31, which the latter ultimately won by eight runs. 

Gautam, who captained the Tuskers, is a veteran wicket-keeper and the highest-profile player yet to be arrested in connection with the KPL scandal. 

Both he and Kazi, an all-rounder, are former Karnataka Ranji Trophy players. Gautam, in fact, has even featured for India-A.

 

“They ensured that the KPL final match was lost, and were involved in fixing a second match against Bengaluru Blasters. We have taken the accused into custody and further investigations are on to ascertain if more players are involved in the scam,” said Joint Commissioner of Police, CCB, Sandeep Patil.

A senior officer, who is part of the investigation team, said the police have information on the involvement of more players with bookies. 

Instances of betting and match and spot fixing are more pervasive than previously suspected, he said. “There will be more arrests soon,” the officer added. 

On Tuesday, the police arrested cricketer Nishanth Singh Shekhawat, who last featured in a KPL match in 2018 for Shivamogga Lions. 

According to the police, Shekhawat was the link between bookies and Vinu Prasad, a Bengaluru Blasters bowling coach, who was arrested in October along with batsman Vishwanathan, formerly with the same team.

City police Commissioner Bhaskar Rao said the scam has brought the game into disrepute.

“Investigations have revealed that the bookies have dominated the KPL and controlled the players at every step. The CCB officials probing the case are under immense pressure as many people associated with cricket field are trying to influence and interfere with their investigations,” he said. 

The bookies allegedly took care of the needs of the players as soon as they agreed to their terms. “Bookies would arrange for accommodation of players at star hotels, provide conveyance and even took care of their shopping and other expenses,” said the senior police officer. 

Following the arrests, the Karnataka State Cricket Association announced that Gautam and Kazi had been suspended from all forms of cricket with immediate effect.

“The KSCA is committed to organizing cricket tournaments which are fair and transparent. As a responsible association, the KSCA intends to act without delay against any franchise/players/match official/support staff who have been involved in any illegal activity,” it said in a press release. 

 The KSCA has already suspended Ali Asfak Thara, the owner of the Belagavi Panthers franchise, who was arrested on charges of betting. “In case they (Belagavi) are found guilty, their franchise will be terminated,” read the press release. The Association has warned that franchises, players, officials and support staff who are arrested for their involvement in any illegal activity will be suspended. “If they are found guilty, appropriate and stringent action will be taken immediately.”

In September, the owner of Belagavi Panthers, Ashfaq Ali Thara, and s drummer with Bellary Tuskers had been arrested in connection with an alleged international cricket betting scandal. The CCB had also issued an LOC against bookies who had fled the country soon after the scam was busted.

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Printable version | Dec 10, 2019 12:54:59 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/cricketers-gautam-abrar-kazi-held-in-kpl-fixing-case/article29907296.ece

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