The shadow of betting over domestic T20 cricket leagues in India is getting darker. So much so that the Anti Corruption Unit (ACU) of the BCCI has expressed serious concern and even asked the board to consider pulling the plug on these leagues.
The Indian Express has learnt that the ACU has, in a confidential report submitted to the BCCI, highlighted that a Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL) match this year between Tuti Patriots and Madurai Panthers witnessed betting of around 24 million pounds (about Rs 225 crore) on the international site Betfair.
The report states that Betfair was so perturbed by the unusually high amount linked to an Indian state league that it stopped taking bets on any matches involving Tuti Patriots. The ACU report draws its findings from two research companies that monitor odds being placed for any team during any T20 league across the world.
ACU chief Ajit Singh was unavailable for comment despite repeated attempts by The Indian Express. Last week, BCCI president Sourav Ganguly declared that two TNPL franchises were suspended. Later, however, an official of the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) said that no franchise was suspended. Two co-owners of Tuti Patriots had been expelled on advice from the TNCA’s internal inquiry committee, the official said.
In September, The Indian Express had reported that an India player, an IPL regular and a Ranji Trophy coach were among those who figured in an internal investigation by the BCCI’s ACU, which found rampant corruption in the TNPL.
Sources involved with the probe had said that bookies and match-fixers, after taking control of a franchise through an illegal deal with the team owner, were running “the team in such a way that they make windfall gain in betting”.
Ganguly had also said that at least one player involved in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy was approached by bookies during the latest edition of the premier national T20 tournament. The former Indian captain also said that the Karnataka Premier League (KPL) was on hold.
Corruption in various T20 leagues has kept the ACU busy over the last year. It is also probing a case where a Mumbai player red-flagged an approach from a team owner to indulge in spot-fixing in the T20 Mumbai league. Singh, the ACU chief, has in the past stated that the authorities need to introduce a law to curb match-fixing.
Ganguly has said that the ACU will have to be strengthened if corruption across leagues continue and had added that the current set-up will be evaluated next year. “We are dealing with it, we are getting the anti-corruption system right. We have to get the best anti-corruption people and make it stronger. We will assess it, next year if it (corruption) doesn’t stop, if it doesn’t work then we will think of something else,” Ganguly said.
The Bengaluru crime branch, meanwhile, has made a number of arrests related to alleged corruption and spot-fixing in the KPL, with the most high-profile arrest being that of former Karnataka captain C M Gautam. The owner of Belagavi Panthers, Asfak Ali Thara, was also arrested as were bookies, other players, and support staff members as part of an ongoing investigation.