IPL spot-fixing: India's players break down before Mudgal committee

Two top cricketers, one of whom starred in India's World Cup-winning campaign, broke down when the investigators grilled them about their alleged role in match fixing, saying their lives will be destroyed if the committee named them

International Cricket Council chairman N Srinivasan, considered world cricket's most powerful person, along with three influential Indian Premier League members has four days to file objections to the Supreme Court for being questioned by investigators probing alleged spot fixing in the world's richest cricket league, but there are enough indications that findings could reveal a disturbing player-bookie nexus.

Pic for representation purpose only
Pic for representation purpose only 

Highly placed sources told this correspondent that the news has sent shock waves among members of the team, currently in Ranchi for the fifth and final one-dayer against Sri Lanka. "Everyone is calling to seek details of the court proceedings. There is a hidden wave of worry," said a top BCCI official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

There is more disturbing news. Two top cricketers, one of whom starred in India's World Cup-winning campaign, broke down when the Justice Mukul Mudgal Committee grilled them about their alleged role in match fixing, saying their lives will be destroyed if the committee named them, sources with knowledge of the enquiry told this correspondent.

One of the players, an all-rounder, was in tears throughout the questioning and kept pleading with the interrogators not to name him in their report, sources said. The other is a reputed fast bowler. "The players — the bowler and all-rounder — repeatedly said their careers were almost over, and all they wanted was to live the rest of their lives with dignity," said a source.

While the two above mentioned cricketers were worried about life after cricket, now that their active careers are virtually over, committee members were astounded by the sangfroid exhibited by a famous player.

'Photograph with me?'
Even after the committee paraded in front of him known bookies he was alleged to have been in touch with, the player denied knowing any of them. What got the goat of an investigator assigned to help the committee, was the player's parting comment after his four-hour grilling in a five-star hotel: "Now that you are done with your questioning, would you like to have a photograph with me?"

The fuming investigator, sources said, managed to keep his cool and politely refused the snide offer. "The senior player, after four hours of questioning was over, even asked the interrogator if he would like him to pose for photograph. He (the player) was smart, very confident," said a source.

Sources said that according to a 190-page report filed by Mumbai police, this player was defiant despite being presented with instances of him having conversations with Gurunath Meiyappan, some of which have him "sharing team composition" with the 'cricket enthusiast'.

Phone conversations
Sources said the Mumbai police report has details of phone conversations among Vindoo Dara Singh, a former actor and Mumbai-based bookie, the agent of this player and Meiyappan and these conversations point to "an extremely disturbing nexus."

Sources refused to elaborate on the committee's findings on the conversations between Meiyappan and Singh, both already indicted by the Mudgal Committee in its first report. Besides these explosive parts, the report also is said to contain:

>> Details of damning confessions of some bookies who – during a joint interrogation with a cricketer – said two models from Mumbai and Delhi acted as fronts him to pass on information. The source added that this was not the first time this cricketer has gotten himself in a tangle when it came to women and fixing allegations.

>> "Extremely disturbing" evidence that some IPL franchisee – in particular one northern franchise owner – were regularly dialling handset numbers registered in Dubai and Karachi, considered by many as strongholds of cricket bookies. "These calls went back and forth several time before and during the IPL season (or matches)," said the source.

>> A 35-page technical report by a former icon with impeccable integrity that comments strongly on some of the "suspected matches" shown to him by the committee. lEvidence gathered by Delhi and Mumbai police as to how cricketers and bookies shared a common hotel during the IPL.

The writer is a Delhi-based journalist

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