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IPL: Sreesanth and two Rajasthan Royals teammates arrested by Delhi police

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Santhakumaran Sreesanth, centre, seen in action in the 2011 World Cup final for India, was one of three cricketers to be arrested by Delhi police. Manan Vatsyayana / AFP
Santhakumaran Sreesanth, centre, seen in action in the 2011 World Cup final for India, was one of three cricketers to be arrested by Delhi police. Manan Vatsyayana / AFP

Cricket was hurled into yet another corruption scandal yesterday with the arrest of three Indian players by Delhi police for alleged spot-fixing during the ongoing sixth season of the Indian Premier League (IPL).

The three players, including the international S Sreesanth, all were members of the Rajasthan Royals this season. Some of the video evidence Delhi police presented at a press conference included Wednesday night’s game against Mumbai Indians, which Rajasthan lost.

Ankeet Chavan, Ajit Chandila and Sreesanth were immediately suspended by the IPL governing council and the Board of Control for Cricket in Indian (BCCI), as their franchise claimed they were “completely taken by surprise” by the developments.

The BCCI president N Srinivasan insisted, however, that the season, which concludes a week from Sunday, will continue.

“I am also equally sad, as all my colleagues are in the BCCI, that a player who played Tests for India is involved,” Srinivasan said.

“But does that mean that the entire game is corrupt? I do not agree at all. I do not agree the IPL cannot continue. We will take all steps to root out this kind of corruption. To make a sweeping statement the IPL is untenable, I do not agree.”

In a compelling unveiling of evidence, the Delhi police read transcripts of taped conversations between the players and bookies, then detailed the nature of the fixes on video.

Neeraj Kumar, the police commissioner, said they had chanced upon the players while conducting an investigation into the Mumbai underworld’s links with cricket.

Authorities said the three players were repeatedly involved in taped phone conversations, and police waited for the trio to commit the alleged fixes over three different games before making arrests.

The games under suspicion against Pune on May 6, Punjab on May 9 and Mumbai on May 15.

Kumar said the players received between 4-6 million Indian rupees (US$73,000-109,500) for conceding a minimum number of runs during certain overs of the games.

Police said players used certain signs on the pitch to alert watching bookies that the fix was on.

In the game against Punjab, for example, Sreesanth allegedly agreed to bowl with a towel tucked into his trousers to let bookmakers know he would concede at least 14 runs in the over.

Further arrests, Kumar said, would be made, but none involving other players in the IPL.

This is the second corruption scandal to hit Indian domestic cricket in two seasons.

Last year, an undercover sting operation led to bans of varying length imposed on five players for negotiating to fix matches.

The newest developments is expected to raise further concerns about the increasing number of domestic Twenty20 leagues around the world and whether there is enough vigilance in place to prevent corruption.

“We will examine what further regulation can be done,” Srinivasan said. “As far as player access, we have the same code as in international cricket. We will examine if we need to take more steps.

“We have to examine and see objectively what else we can do, what further steps we can take, and how we can demonstrate that this sort of action doesn’t pay at all. There’s a lot of work for us to do.”

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