New Delhi: A court on Tuesday denied cricketer S. Sreesanth and 22 others bail after police said they now had evidence to prove the involvement of Dawood Ibrahim in illegal betting and players on the take in Indian Premier League (IPL) matches.
Sreesanth and two of his teammates from the Rajasthan Royals franchise were arrested last month for deliberately bowling badly during the Twenty20 cricket tournament in exchange for tens of thousands of dollars from bookmakers.
During the hearing in New Delhi, police said India’s most wanted man Dawood Ibrahim—an alleged underworld don with links to militant groups—was a ringleader in the scandal.
“This organized crime syndicate, besides controlling illegal betting, was indulging in fixing performance of players and also the rates of betting,” a police officer told the court.
If convicted under the invoked Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act, the accused face a life in prison.
Spot-fixing, in which a specific part of the match but not the outcome is fixed, is illegal. Placing bets on the IPL is also illegal under India’s laws which ban gambling on all sports except horse-racing.
India’s powerful cricket chief has stepped aside over the scandal which has led to the arrest of his son-in-law over illegal betting in the domestic Twenty20 competition.
A court in Mumbai on Tuesday granted the son-in-law, Gurunath Meiyappan, bail over his alleged role along with a Bollywood actor.
In a related development, former Bangladesh cricket captain and national hero Mohammad Ashraful admitted match-fixing, further shaking confidence in the game and deepening a betting scandal that has engulfed cricket.
Ashraful was earlier suspended from the sport by Bangladesh’s cricket chiefs following allegations of fixing during international matches and a domestic Twenty20 tournament.
“I should have not done this injustice to the nation. I feel guilty,” Ashraful, who captained Bangladesh between 2007 and 2009, told the Independent TV channel.
“I would only say, please all forgive me, my conduct was improper,” he said.
Ashraful apologised for his involvement in fixing and said he had confessed all to anti-corruption officials from the International Cricket Council.
His apology came shortly after the Bangladesh Cricket Board president Nazmul Hassan announced the right-handed batsman had been suspended pending the full report of an investigation by the ICC officials.
The ICC’s Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) has been probing allegations of match-fixing during the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL), a Twenty20 competition.
Ashraful became the country’s youngest Test centurion in 2001 at the age of 17 and captained Bangladesh between 2007 and 2009.
The alleged fixing involves a match between the Dhaka Gladiators and the Chittagong Kings teams during the second edition of the BPL.
Local media have reported that 28-year-old Gladiators star Ashraful was allegedly paid about one million taka ($12,800) to lose the 2 February match.
The batsman was also allegedly involved in fixing another match 10 days later against the Barisal Burners, which his team lost by seven wickets, reports have said.