Rajasthan Royals won the inaugural edition of IPL © AFP
Rajasthan Royals won the inaugural edition of IPL © AFP

New Delhi: When a top official of Rajasthan Royals (RR) team management was informed about the arrest of three of its players in the wake of IPL 2013 spot-fixing scandal, he thought someone was pulling off a prank but just that it turned out to be much more serious, reveals a new book on Indian cricket. Cricket Historian Boria Majumdar’s new book ‘Eleven Gods And A Billion Indians’ published by Simon and Schuster, which is soon to hit the stands, revealed some dark but funny anecdotes during the spot-fixing episode.

Call it destiny or twist of fate, RR’s journey has been one of intrigue and full of drama since the inception of IPL in 2008, when Shane Warne led a bunch of upstarts like Yusuf Pathan, Ravindra Jadeja, Swapnil Asnodkar to title glory. But post 2013 when the infamous spot-fixing scandal broke out with three of its players including former India speedster S Sreesanth being arrested, the Jaipur-based outfit has been a much-maligned one. It might read funny in hindsight but former CEO of Royals, Raghu Iyer’s recollections of that fateful early morning call in his hotel room, turned everything topsy-turvy.

In the chapter titled ‘Sky Fall’ (Page 181), Iyer revisited the incidents of early morning of May 16, 2013.”We were staying at The Oberoi and I got a call around 5:30 am from duty manager of the hotel. My wife picked up the call and passed it to me in a jiffy. The duty manager was saying to me that several policemen, including an assistant commissioner from Mumbai Police, were waiting downstairs and I was to go down as soon as possible.

“We had a sponsor shoot with Cyrus Broacha (a TV anchor and video jockey) the previous day and my first thought was this was a prank. I was being made a bakra (a famous programme of a popular music channel). I even said so and tried to laugh it off,” Iyer recollects.”That was when I was told it was not a prank and that I was being summoned.”

The author then writes: “The Royals CEO went down and was met by a team from Delhi Police, led by an ACP in a safari suit. The cops had done their due diligence and were there to arrest three of the Royals players on spot-fixing. Iyer was literally pulled out of the bed and told about the arrests.”In Iyer’s words, they were in no hurry and explained to him every details that they have collected.

“They were in no hurry and after explaining to me in detail did they tell me that they were going to Ankeet Chavan’s room to pick him up,” said Iyer. Iyer gave himself two hours to prepare for the enormity before informing Rahul Dravid at 8 am.”I informed Rahul at 8 am and he was distraught. He had hands on his head and just couldn’t speak. To see a player of his calibre and stature go through this was painful.”

Interestingly, in another chapter titled ‘What Do They Know Of Cricket?’, the author provided another anecdote when a team from Rajasthan Royals went to meet the Supreme Court appointed three-member committee headed by former Chief Justice of India RM Lodha with Dravid accompanying them. The author writes (Page 218): “Unlike the Chennai team, which was represented by a battery of lawyers, the Rajasthan team had sent Rahul Dravid among others, to put forward their case before Justice Lodha and his team”

He then goes onto quote a source close to the panel, who corroborated the incident.”It was very interesting to see two different strategies being adopted by two different franchises. While Chennai was going the legal route, Rajasthan had Rahul Dravid with them for the very first meeting. Dravid had no role and it was very clear that it was an attempt to make an impression on the committee,” the source said.

“Justice Lodha, he went on to conform, was very polite but clear with Dravid. He wasn’t needed in the meeting was the message that was conveyed to Dravid reasonably early and was respectfully told that they would call on him as and when required,” the author writes.