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Cricket scandal jolts India.

Tales of female escorts and parties to lure players, underworld connections and teary-eyed confessions by once promising, famed cricket players falling from grace have shocked and outraged Canadian fans of the Indian Premier League.

"This is simply outrageous and shocking," saud Arjun Singh, a Vancouver IPL fan.

"In fact the stories off the pitch that are coming out now are more interesting than some of the matches," he quipped.

K. John, a Surrey IPL fan said he will not likely resume watching the games on Canadian TV.

"We pay quite a bit for these games ... for what ... to see cheats in action,: he said.

The Indian Premier League, the richest cricket tournament in the world, has millions of fans all over the world, especially in the Indian Diaspora.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has swung into action as more and more sordid details of the spot fixing scandal came tumbling after police three arrested players--Ajit Chandila, along with his Rajasthan Royals colleagues S. Sreesanth and Ankeet Chavan.

The BCCI last Sunday discussed the arrests of the three cricketers and suspended Gujarat medium pacer Amit Singh who, who during his stint with Rajasthan Royals, was allegedly used by the bookies to fix deals with cricketers.

After a day of intense interrogation and investigation, Delhi Police said they stumbled on the spot fixing racket after they recorded the phone calls of aides to underworld figure Tiger Memon with bookies. They also found out that one of the players was told to rope in others in the sordid saga.

It was Ajit Chandila, who reportedly told police that he tried to rope in two more players at the behest of bookies who had promised to offer him about C$50,000 for bowling a fixed over. But the two players refused.

"During questioning, Chandila told police that he met bookies at Country Club in Manesar (adjoining Delhi) on April 6. In the meeting, the bookies asked him to rope in more players for spot fixing. He gave two names and the bookies asked him to bring them to a party where the deal could be discussed," police sources told IANS.

However, the two cricketers refused to attend the party.

Chandila also reportedly told interrogators that in the 2012 IPL season, the last two overs of a match between Delhi Daredevils and Rajasthan Royals might have been fixed.

Amidst media reports that Rajasthan Royals co-owner Shilpa Shetty, her husband Raj Kundra and captain Rahul Dravid would also be questioned, police denied calling them for the probe.

The police said they were able to trail the sleazy connection when they started to intercept the calls of aides of Tiger Memon, who is said to be in Dubai, since March 2013.

They also said that escorts were used to lure the players into the net.

Sources also told IANS that when Sreesanth was arrested from Trident Hotel in south Mumbai's Nariman Point, he was with a woman. Police refused to give more details about her. They also ruled out her involvement in spot fixing.

The three players, who along with 11 bookies have been remanded to police custody, have been lodged in the office of Delhi Police's Special Cell in Lodhi Colony.

Police said all the three players have confessed to their crime.

Of the 11 bookies, Chandresh Patel, who was arrested from Mumbai's Andheri area, may be the main conspirator in this case, police said. He was into the profession for many years, police added.

Sources also said that Sreesanth was directly approached by cricketer-turned bookie Jiju Janardhan, his distant cousin who has also been arrested. He had played for Kerala U-25 cricket team.

Although the three accused confessed to their crimes, their families and lawyers maintained they were innocent.

Deepak Prakash, Sreesanth's lawyer, said: "Sreesanth has been falsely or mistakenly arrested. They (Delhi Police) have got some wrong information or mistakenly arrested him."

Delhi Police said more teams have been sent to other states to conduct raids.

Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, meanwhile, congratulated Delhi Police for the investigations.

Caption: Rajasthan Royals co-owner Shilpa Shetty is a Bollywood actress


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Title Annotation:Top Story
Publication:South Asian Post
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:May 23, 2013
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