This Day That Year: The IPL spot-fixing scandal rocks Indian cricket

The Indian Premiere League (IPL) has never been bereft of controversies. It was the 2013 edition, however, where the IPL got its biggest jolt ever.

On May 16, 2013, three Rajasthan Royals bowlers - Sreesanth, Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila - were arrested by the Delhi police for allegedly fulfilling of promises made to alleged bookmakers. Apparently, the players were promised money ranging from US$36,000 to 109,000 for each over.

Along with the players, 11 bookies too were arrested and one of the bookies, Jiju Janardhanan, was believed to be Sreesanth's cousin. All the three players were initially put in judicial custody and were later granted bail.

The scandal took the nation and cricketing world by storm and left the BCCI in utter shock and embarrassment. Hour after the arrest, the BCCI issued a statement saying: “The BCCI is shocked and saddened at the recent developments. The BCCI has zero tolerance to corruption. We will offer all co-operation to the Delhi Police and all other authorities in their investigations in this matter. The IPL Governing Council has met and decided that the cricketers found involved will be dealt with severely. “

Rajasthan Royals too were quick to react and immediately sent out a press release citing their disgust on the issue. The matter hurt the Royals pretty hard as it was being led then by Rahul Dravid – a man of the highest integrity known in world cricket. Dravid was obviously stunned and dejected with the revelations and could not believe that something like this had happened under his leadership. He was angry and hurt and the after-effects of the incident had reportedly shaken him to the core for months.

Meanwhile, Neeraj Kumar, the then commissioner of Delhi Police, presented a detailed explanation of its investigation which had apparently begun in early April 2013. The cases were registered under the Indian Penal Code section 420 and 120B, which deal with fraud, cheating, and criminal conspiracy.

The police also identified three matches where the alleged spot-fixing happened: against Pune Warriors on May 5, Kings XI Punjab on May 9 and Mumbai Indians on May 15. The deal apparently was to give away a specific number of runs in an already specified over. Details were also given as to how the deal was struck and how the players went on to concede those runs.

Sreesanth, allegedly, was to make a signal asking for a towel and then tuck it inside his trousers before bowling his second over against Kings XI on May 9. He was also supposed to give away 14 runs in that particular over and ended up conceding 13.

Chandila, meanwhile, was also supposed to concede 14 runs in his second over against Warriors on May 5, but forgot to indicate this to his handlers. Chavan, the third accused, was to fiddle with his wristband. Apparently, Chandila spoke to a bookie soon after the match and asked them to deliver the money - Rs 60 lakh – to him. This was the point where the police went ahead with the arrests.

All the three were handed life bans by the BCCI. Sreesanth later fought the allegations against him, stating that he was innocent and had been framed. He fought a long court battle and continues to try and prove his innocence to this day. However, his life ban was never revoked.

Chandila served his life ban and Chavan was cleared of all the charges by the Delhi Police in 2015.

The ramifications

The ramifications for this episode were large scale as the image of the IPL took a severe beating. What made matters worse was that a few days later it was also uncovered that Rajasthan Royals team co-owner Raj Kundra was questioned by the Delhi Police for alleged involvement in illegal betting.

The media took the BCCI apart and questions were raised on the IPL’s negative effects on the players. It took the Indian cricket board quite some time to clear this mess but there was no denying that the spot-fixing scandal had shaken Indian cricket at its very core.

Whatever may have been the truth or the reasons behind it, ultimately three talented cricketers were lost to Indian cricket forever.

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