BCCI suspendes 5 players over spot-fixing

Five uncapped Indian players were on Tuesday suspended with immediate effect pending completion of an inquiry as a rattled BCCI cracked the whip on tainted cricketers in the wake of a television sting operation which claimed to have exposed corruption in the cash-rich IPL.

The strong action to suspend Mohnish Mishra, Shalabh Srivastava, T P Sudhindra, Amit Yadav and Abhinav Bali was taken after a lengthy tele-conference of top BCCI officials and members of the IPL’s Governing Council.

The BCCI decided to conduct a preliminary inquiry into the incident by Ravi Sawani, the former chief of the ICC’s Anti-Corruption Unit who is now heading the BCCI’s newly set-up Anti-Corruption Unit.

"The IPL Governing Council met on teleconference today at 2:30pm and they recommended to the BCCI President for strict action against those players who were found guilty and found suspicious on the television footage shown on India TV," IPL Chairman Rajiv Shukla told reporters here.

"Since it also involved matter relating to other matches and previous IPL, it was referred to the President. The president after due consideration has decided to have a preliminary inquiry for which a commissioner has been appointed. Mr Ravi Sawani who was the ICC ACSU chief and now advisor will conduct the inquiry and he will submit a report to the Disciplinary Committee," he said.

"Pending inquiry the five players have been suspended from all cricket activities with immediate effect. We will await the report of the preliminary inquiry and proper action will be taken only after that," he added.

Television channel India TV on Monday claimed to have blown the lid off "murky deals" in the IPL among players, organisers, owners and big guns of Indian cricket.

That some tough measures would be taken against the players was evident when the BCCI president N Srinivasan, who is currently at Kodaikanal, made it clear that no player would be spared if found guilty.

He admitted that he was surprised by the sting operation and reiterated the BCCI’s zero tolerance towards corruption in cricket.

"We will not tolerate this nonsense. We have zero tolerance on corruption and you will not be disappointed by the action we take," he said.

"Some evidence have been found against some players," he added.

The TV sting operation which was aired at prime time yesterday created a flutter in the Indian cricket establishment prompting the BCCI to react quickly. It took less than 24 hours for the cricket body to take action against the players.

The channel had claimed it had done a sting operation in which many players confessed on hidden camera they get much more than their prescribed auction under the table.

According to the channel, its operation also revealed that spot-fixing is not only prevalent in IPL but also that first class matches are fixed and women played an important role in match-fixing.

The IPL’s Governing Council had sought video footage from the TV channel and is understood to have scrutinised the tapes before taking the decision of suspending the players.

Four of the five players suspended had played in the rebel Indian Cricket League.

Medium pacer Sudhindra, who had played for Delhi Giants in the ICL, helped Madhya Pradesh gain promotion to Ranji Trophy’s Elite Division in the 2010-11 season. He surprised everyone in his first season in the big league, ending the 2011-12 season as its highest wicket-taker and earning himself a contract with the Deccan Chargers in the IPL.

Madhya Pradesh middle-order batsman Mishra too played for the Delhi Giants in the rebel Indian Cricket League before gaining amnesty form the BCCI. Signed by Deccan Chargers in 2010, 28-year-old Mishra moved to the newly-formed Pune Warriors in 2011.

Uttar Pradesh left-arm seamer Srivastava was India’s highest wicket-taker at the victorious Under-19 World Cup in Sri Lanka in 2000. After severing ties with ICL team Delhi Giants, Srivastava was signed up by Kings XI Punjab in 2011.

22-year-old Yadav, an all-rounder, bats right-handed and bowls off-spin for Goa. He has played 14 first-class matches, scoring three half centuries and taking 41 wickets at 23.75.

Yadav is on Kings XI Punjab’s roster but hasn’t made his IPL debut yet.

Left-arm spinner Bali, who was with Delhi Giants in the ICL, had played 13 first class matches and he is currently not in any IPL team.

Srivastava claimed that he was innocent and would put forward his side of story before the inquiry commissioner.

"I deny the charges but don’t want to say anything more as of now. I will put forward my views before the inquiry commissioner. I will wait for that. I respect the BCCI," he said.

The Editor-in-Chief and Chairman of India TV, Rajat Sharma stood by the story and said they had offered money to over a dozen cricketers after which they had aired the clips of cricketers, who had offered to take money to either switch teams or for spot fixing in matches.

He denied that any of the big players had sought money from the channel’s reporters who had posed as agents.

"As far as I know the big players in IPL are clean. This is possible since they have already made enough money. To me it’s not a system failure but seems some individual players are corrupt," he said.

While conducting the sting operation, Sharma said they had come across three cricketers who had refused to take money from the reporters.

The BCCI later issued a release, expressing concern at the incident.

"An emergent meeting of the IPL Governing Council took place on teleconference today. The Governing Council discussed the video footage shown on India TV since last evening of a ‘Sting’ operation in connection with the IPL," the release said.

"The members felt that the areas covered by the footage warranted immediate action by the President BCCI under the ‘Memorandum and Rules and Regulations’ of the BCCI against the players alleged to be involved," it said.(PTI)

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