IPL spot-fixing: Sreesanth, 2 other players `confess`; more players under scanner
New Delhi: Sreesanth and the two other arrested Rajasthan Royal(RR) players have "confessed" to spot- fixing in IPL matches, the Delhi Police claimed today even as the role of more players whose names have cropped up during interrogation could be probed.
Six bookies were held in Tamil Nadu in connection with another IPL betting racket and one each picked up in Mumbai and Delhi. 11 bookies were arrested earlier along with cricketers Sreesanth, Ankit Chavan and Ajit Chandila.
Lending credence to reports that they may have been lured or sucked into a honey-trap, Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar said Indian pacer Sreesanth and his friend Jiju were with women when they were arrested.
"Yes", replied Kumar on being asked whether the three cricketers have confessed to spot-fixing. "They had no option but to do so," he said, adding, "There is solid evidence against them and we are confident of getting their convictions," he said.
Lawyers of the three cricketers denied their involvement and claimed that they were falsely implicated as part of a deep-rooted conspiracy.
The role of more players whose names cropped up during interrogation of the arrested cricketers and bookies in the IPL spot-fixing scandal could be probed, police said.
Delhi Police is also likely to probe some more IPL matches in the current season even as Sreesanth, Chavan and Chandila along with 11 other arrested bookies were subjected to interrogation by its Special Cell.
It has also emerged that the arrested bookies tried to lure three players, including two foreigners, with the help of Chandila, to be part of the spot-fixing racket. The players-- Brad Hogg, Kevin Cooper and Siddharth Trivedi--, however, spurned their invite to join a party at Jaipur for clinching the deal, the sources said.
Sources said Sreeshant, Chavan and Amit Singh, a cricketer-turned-bookie, broke into tears when they were being grilled by the police sleuths.
From the investigations so far since the arrests yesterday, Chandila is emerging as the main accused among the three cricketers while Chandresh Patel is believed to be the key link among the bookies.
As investigators in Delhi went into the bottom of the spot-fixing scandal that has sparked an outrage, Tamil Nadu police claimed to have busted a separate betting racket relating to IPL matches with the arrest of six bookies in Chennai and recovered Rs 14 lakh in cash.
The suspected mastermind was operating from Delhi, Crime Branch-CID SPs Perumal and S Rajeshwari told reporters in Chennai. The arrests followed searches at 13 locations in Chennai based on a tip-off.
Sreesanth`s lawyer Deepak Prakash insisted his client is "totally innocent."
"Sreesanth has been falsely or mistakenly arrested. They (Delhi Police) have got some wrong information or mistakenly arrested him," he said.
Sreesanth and the other two cricketers were arrested in a post-midnight operation in Mumbai yesterday by Delhi Police for spot-fixing IPL matches for payments of upto Rs 60 lakh just for giving away pre-determined number of runs in an over.
Rajiv Shankar Dwivedi, the lawyer who appeared for Chandila and Chauhan, claimed that they were completely innocent.
They "have nothing to do with this controversy. All illegal and wrongful procedures were adopted by the police to trap them. Th police have no evidence against them. They have been wrongly trapped," he said.
During interrogation in Delhi, the three arrested cricketers put the blame on the other accused, sources said.
Sreesanth blamed it on Jiju, a club-level player from Kerala whose matches were attended by the Indian pacer regularly.
Chandila, who is alleged to be under debt, had chosen the bookie route for earning a quick buck. Police also had managed to intercept a telephone conversation between Chandila and his wife.
"The wife asked him where was he getting so much money when the team was losing. He told her to keep the money whatever he gives," the sources said.
The investigators questioning the cricketers claimed the players were difficult and knew how to mislead on being cornered by the sleuths.
The investigators said that some of the previous matches were also being examined by the Delhi police as the arrested accused have indicated that they too had been fixed at the instance of bookies.
Police said there were also suspicions about a match in the previous year of the IPL tournament in which the Rajasthan Royals lost a match after its two batsmen could not score 12 runs in 12 balls even when eight wickets were in hand.
This input came after an arrested bookie Amit Singh, who played in the last IPL edition for Rajasthan Royals and was not allowed to participate this time due to a suspected bowling action, flagged doubts about it during interrogation.