resh accusations of match-fixing have been levelled at some of the most senior players and administrators in Indian cricket. And in what will come as severely disheartening news to Indian cricket lovers still euphoric after this year's World Cup victory, it appears that four Pakistani players could have been paid to underperform in India's World Cup semi-final against their neighbour and great rival in Mohali.
The accusations have been made in an in-depth report that followed a six-month investigation by Sports Illustrated India, the Indian edition of the widely-read and reputed Time Warner publication Sports Illustrated. The magazine has not named any of the players, administrators or politicians involved because they are still in the process of verifying some of the details, but they say they have "informally offered" the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) access to these recordings.
The report goes on to assert that at least some part of the huge funds involved goes to Dawood Ibrahim or organisations he controls. They have also named six of the biggest bookies in Delhi: Dr Saab (who reportedly controlled the active betting syndicates in the NCR), Tinku Mandi, Titu Bansal, Bobby Jailroad, Sunilji and Baburam a.k.a. Sunil.
The report makes clear that a number of international players have been directly implicated in sharing too much information with these bookies. On some of their recordings, there is talk that team information was being passed onto a middleman-bookie through one of the biggest player agents in Indian cricket. There is also a reference to a national selector who received favours because he managed to get a certain player into the team. One other incident cited involves the India-West Indies day-night World Cup match in Chennai; they say news that Chris Gayle would not be playing had been announced by the bookies to their customers before breakfast. The news was confirmed by the West Indian management many hours later.
Sports Illustrated's report could also create some problems for Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar. They reference a file presented in the Maharashtra Assembly by BJP legislator Eknath Khadse that shows that Pawar flew to Dubai with Shahid Balwa and Vinod Goenka (of DB Realty, both are behind bars for the 2G scam) on 8 February this year. They also note the role of Y.P. Singh, who is part of the CBI team promoting the 2G scam and was made the investigator-designate of ICC's Anti-Corruption and Security Unit. Pawar is head of the ICC.