JIJU Janardhan,the man who is suspected to have lured S Sreesanth into the alleged spot-fixing racket,was well-acquainted with Rajasthan Royals player-turned-bookie Amit Singh,with whom he had played in local tournaments in Gujarat.
Those close to Sreesanth claim that Singh could have taken Jijus help to bring Sreesanth into the betting net.
Jiju and Amit knew each other well from their days of club cricket for the same team Gandhinagar Colts in Ahmedabad. Amit could have tried to exploit Jijus proximity to Sreesanth to get him involved, said a close friend of Sreesanth.
Jiju and Sreesanth go back more than a decade,and played together in leagues in the Middle-east. They met in 2000 at the MRF Pace Foundation in Chennai when Sreesanth was a 18-year-old pacer from Kerala.
Since both players originally belonged to the same state,they soon became good friends at the camp so much so that whenever Jiju visited Kerala,he would stay at Sreesanths place in Kochi. He used to stay at Srees place,wear his clothes,and travel with him wherever he went. Sreesanth always looked out for him as a brother, said a friend close to both players.
While Sreesanth eventually made the national side in 2006,Jijus struggle continued. An all-rounder,Jiju had represented Gujarat at the U-16,U-19 and U-22 levels but was unable to break into the states Ranji squad.
He was a good cricketer and had the potential. Somehow things didnt go right for him and he returned to Kerala, said Salil Yadav,captain of Gandhinagar district where Jiju played.
Sreesanth did his bit to help his friend,requesting Kerala Cricket Association secretary T C Mathew in 2009-10 to include Jiju in the Ranji squad. Sreesanth unsuccessfully tried to push Janardhan into the team even though he did not qualify for it, recalled Mathew.
A few years back,Sreesanth was declared the brand ambassador of the Kerala Premier League in Dubai and Jiju was part of the tournament,turning out for Kochi Diwans. Jiju was also part of the Kerala Cricket League in Sharjah,even bagging the man of the series award for Cochin Cannons.
Jijus father Janardhan said that the night before he got arrested,his son had called home to say hed be returning to play club cricket.
I was in shock when I heard the news. I could not believe that he was involved in spot-fixing. Yesterday night he told me that he would come home to play for a local cricket club at Thalassery, said Janardhan,who lives in Kannur after retirement.