17th May, 2012
Five Indian Premier League players were suspended from cricket this week as fresh match-fixing allegations hit the game and threatened to further tarnish a competition already dogged by controversy.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) moved swiftly after a sting operation by a local TV channel highlighted alleged fixing and corruption in domestic matches.
The five – T. P. Sudhindra, Mohnish Mishra, Abhinav Bali, Amit Yadav and Shalabh Srivastava – are all first-class players, but have yet to break into international cricket.
“The BCCI has decided to suspend these players from all cricket till preliminary investigation into the whole episode is completed,” IPL commissioner Rajiv Shukla told reporters.
The inquiry will be carried out by former police officer Ravi Sawani, who has previously served on the International Cricket Council’s Anti-Corruption and Security Unit, Shukla added.
Hindi-language India TV showed Sudhindra, of the Deccan Chargers, allegedly agreeing to bowl pre-arranged no-balls in a local amateur match, while Kings XI Punjab player Srivastava was reportedly heard boasting he could do the same in the IPL.
The channel claimed it had taped seamer Srivastava telling its reporters he could deliver a no-ball in the IPL for one million rupees (about $18 500).
Srivastava, 30, who has played two seasons of first-class cricket for the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, denied the allegation and threatened to take the TV channel to court.
“The voice which suggests that I am ready to spot-fix is not mine,” he told the Indian Express newspaper. “I am ready to clarify this to the BCCI, my team owners and the IPL governing council.
“I will definitely file a case against them.”
Another Kings XI Punjab player, Yadav, was taped saying he had reason to believe that last season’s IPL match against Delhi Daredevils was fixed, but could not substantiate his claim.
Mishra and Bali also featured in the sting, which India TV editor-in-chief Rajat Sharma said had been worked on for almost a year.
“We stand by our story and will co-operate fully with any investigation the BCCI plans to carry out,” Sharma told reporters.
Sudhindra has played in three IPL matches this year and Mishra played one game for Pune Warriors, but Srivastava, Yadav and Bali have not featured in the current tournament.
The IPL, which began in 2008 as a high-octane mix of glamour, entertainment, rich purses for players and the excitement of slam-bang T20 cricket, has endured a difficult ride over the past four years.
The tournament, which features world stars playing for rich franchise owners, is already being investigated by government agencies for alleged fraud and foreign exchange violations.
Its founder Lalit Modi, who was suspended from the league in 2010, is holed up in London facing Indian government and BCCI charges of misappropriation of funds.
Three Pakistan players – test captain Salman Butt and fast bowlers Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif – plus their agent Mazhar Majeed were last year found guilty of spot-fixing during the 2010 Lord’s test against England and jailed.