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The Indian Premier League (IPL) 2013 betting and spot-fixing controversy first came to light on May 16, 2013. Nishad Pai Vaidya looks back at the eventful year that has rocked Indian cricket.
The date May 16, 2013 won’t be forgotten by Indian cricket for years to come. If the match-fixing scandal of the year 2000 was considered Indian cricket’s worst nightmare, they faced an even bigger shock on a summer’s day 13 years later. For years, cricket fans liked to believe that their favourite game was clean; with some odd rumours from time to time. But, the Indian Premier League (IPL) heralded a new era and sadly, brought in some unwanted elements. A fan’s view would never be the same again.
May 16 was supposed to be any other day with all the cricketing action only in the evenings. However, the Indian cricket woke up to the news that Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila, the three Rajasthan Royals bowlers were arrested on allegations of spot-fixing early that morning. It was the first time cricketers were arrested on allegations of cheating in India. Back in 2000, there were no arrests, but the accused were merely banned. This time, a full blooded drama was in store.
As the hours went by, the police released more details about their arrests. The players had apparently made a few signals on the field to indicate that the “deal” was on. At the same time, the tournament ensued, but many watched with prying eyes, not knowing what was genuine. The biggest blow was the fact that Sreesanth, a capped Indian cricketer, was one of the accused. But, it was only the beginning of bigger things to come. There was supposedly more to it than meets the eye.
In such times, rumours flew thick and fast, with some accusations in the media about players who remained in their respective sides. But, the most damaging of them was against Gurunath Meiyappan, the Chennai Super Kings Team principal, as his Twitter bio suggested. It was alleged that he had put money and placed bets on certain results. With close proximity to the Chennai think tank, Meiyappan had information at hand. Even Vindoo Dara Singh, a Bollywood actor was arrested on allegations of betting a few days later. Meiyappan was also arrested.
What made the drama bigger was that Meiyappan was the son-in-law of N Srinivasan, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) President and Managing Director of India Cements, the owners of the Chennai franchise. With controversy at his doorstep, he refused to resign or vacate his position. Adamant in the face of the calls, Srinivasan remained staunch in his stand.
Meanwhile, the tournament continued and the Mumbai Indians went on to beat Chennai in the final. This game was played under the dark shadow of the off-field events and one can say that all that finally took a toll on Chennai on the field.
It has been a year since the whole saga unfolded. But, the drama hasn’t died down. The BCCI initially appointed its own probe panel, which gave clean chits to the big fish. But, they were dragged to court by Aditya Verma, the chief of the Cricket Association of Bihar (CAB), a body that was trying to fight for its own recognition. Verma became the face of the crusade against the BCCI and the way the game was run in the country. And, the Supreme Court setup a probe panel headed by Justice Mukul Mudgal.
In 2014, Mudgal submitted his report to the Supreme Court and certain sections are kept confidential, which supposedly contain the names of players who have been involved in murky deals in the past. The Court proceedings have gone on with the Supreme Court coming down hard on the BCCI, asking why Srinivasan was still holding on to his chair. The BCCI proposed its own panel, having been given a chance by the Supreme Court. However, the Apex Court was unhappy and immediately asked Mudgal if he would continue.
What started off as an alleged incident of spot-fixing, spiraled into a huge controversy which only exposed the pitfalls in the running of the game in the country. The BCCI was left red-faced through the controversies and this hangs around their heads even as another edition of the IPL continues. As far as the accused players go, they are unlikely to feature in any cricket having been handed life bans, except Chandila, on whom the decision is awaited.
All of this only came to light as a few allegedly decided to give into their temptations.
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