The Indian Premier League (IPL) is a tournament that showcases some of the best talents and thrilling matches in the world. However, it has also witnessed some controversies and scandals over the years. One of the most tragic and shameful ones was the spot-fixing and betting case that rocked the IPL in 2013 and led to the suspension of two teams and several players. Here’s an article on the darkest day in IPL history.
What exactly happened?
The case came to light when Delhi Police arrested three Rajasthan Royals players – S Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan – on May 15, 2013 for allegedly being involved in spot-fixing during some IPL matches. The police claimed that they had evidence of phone conversations between the players and bookies who instructed them to perform certain actions during specific overs.
One of the matches that was allegedly fixed was between Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals on May 12, 2013 at MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai. The match was won by CSK by five wickets with one ball remaining. However, according to Delhi Police, some of the overs bowled by RR players were predetermined to favour CSK batsmen.
For instance, Sreesanth bowled a no-ball as his first delivery in his second over (the fifth over of CSK’s innings), which resulted in a free hit for Murali Vijay who hit a six off it. Sreesanth conceded 13 runs in that over. Similarly, Chandila bowled two consecutive no-balls as his first two deliveries in his third over (the ninth over of CSK’s innings), which gave free hits to Michael Hussey who scored two fours off them. Chandila gave away 14 runs in that over.
According to Delhi Police, these no-balls were pre-planned by Sreesanth and Chandila with their bookie contacts who had placed bets on CSK scoring more than six runs per over during those overs. The police also alleged that Chavan had agreed to give away more than 14 runs in his second over (the second over of CSK’s innings), but he failed to do so as he only conceded nine runs.
The police claimed that they had intercepted phone conversations between the players and bookies who used code words such as ‘roti’, ‘maal’ and ‘rakam’ to indicate their deals. The police also alleged that they had evidence of Sreesanth using a towel tucked into his trousers as a signal to bookies before bowling a pre-determined no-ball or wide ball.
The arrests sent shockwaves across the cricket fraternity and triggered a series of investigations by various agencies such as BCCI, Mumbai Police, Delhi Police, Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Supreme Court-appointed Justice Mukul Mudgal Committee. The investigations revealed that the spot-fixing racket was not limited to Rajasthan Royals but involved other teams such as Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) as well.
The investigations also implicated some prominent names such as Gurunath Meiyappan, son-in-law of then BCCI president N Srinivasan and team principal of CSK; Vindoo Dara Singh, Bollywood actor; Raj Kundra, co-owner of Rajasthan Royals; Asad Rauf, Pakistani umpire; Sanjay Chandra, managing director of Unitech Ltd; among others.
The scandal had far-reaching consequences for IPL as well as Indian cricket. The BCCI suspended Sreesanth, Chandila and Chavan for life from playing any form of cricket. It also banned Meiyappan and Kundra for life from any involvement in cricket activities. The Supreme Court appointed Justice R M Lodha Committee to decide on further punishments for CSK and RR.
On July 14, 2015, the Lodha Committee announced its verdict which shocked everyone. It suspended CSK and RR for two years from participating in IPL. It also imposed hefty fines on Meiyappan (Rs 10 crore)and Kundra (Rs 100 crore). It also recommended several reforms for BCCI such as age limit, tenure limit, conflict of interest policy etc.
The spot-fixing and betting scandal was undoubtedly one of the darkest days in IPL history as it tarnished its image and credibility. It also exposed the loopholes in governance and regulation of cricket in India. It took away the joy and excitement of watching IPL matches for many fans who felt betrayed by their heroes.
Everything good now
However, IPL managed to bounce back from this crisis with renewed vigour and enthusiasm. It introduced two new teams – Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS)and Gujarat Lions (GL)- to replace CSK and RR for two seasons (2016-17). It also implemented some of the reforms suggested by Lodha Committee such as appointing an ombudsman, a ethics officer, a electoral officer etc. It also increased its vigilance and security measures to prevent any recurrence of such incidents.
IPL resumed with its original eight teams – CSK, RR, Mumbai Indians (MI), Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), Delhi Capitals (DC), Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), SRH and Punjab Kings(PB)-in 2018 and continued to entertain millions of fans with its high-quality cricket and glamour. It also expanded its reach and popularity by hosting some matches overseas such as UAE, South Africa etc. It also broke several records in terms of viewership, sponsorship, revenue etc.
IPL has proved that it is more than just a cricket tournament; it is a phenomenon that has captured the imagination of people across India and beyond. It has also shown that it can overcome any challenge or adversity with resilience and determination. It has emerged stronger than ever from the darkest day in IPL history and continues to shine.
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