New Delhi: The Indian Premier League (IPL) spot-fixing saga refuses to die down, with names of four players from the franchise Sunrisers Hyderabad now also surfacing as part of the scandal.
According to a report published in The Indian Express on Tuesday, arrested Mumbai bookie Chandresh Patel admitted during interrogation that he had met "Perera, Bihari, Ashish Reddy and Karn Sharma" before the match between Pune Warriors India and Sunrisers Hyderabad, which was played in Pune on April 17 earlier this year.
The last names given by Patel point to Sri Lanka's Thisara Perera, while there is no player with the name or surname 'Bihari' in the Hyderabad squad. However, the squad does include allrounder Hanuma Vihari. Allrounder Ashish Reddy, legspinner Karn Sharma, Perera and Vihari are all part of the squad currently playing the Champions League Twenty20.
The name of "Ashish Reddy's brother" Pritam Reddy also surfaced in statement Patel gave to the cops. Pritam, said the The Indian Express report, was present at the Le Meridien hotel in Pune on April 16. Pritam was part of the conversation between the Sunrisers players and bookies "Pintu [Ahmedabad-based bookie Pravin Thakkar], Yusuf, Jeetu and Amir [the conduit]". The group then went on to discuss the nature of the proposed 'fix'.
"Pritam Reddy asked me what was expected of them," Patel's statement mentioned in the daily read. "I told him that when the team batted, the score should not exceed 60 runs in 10 overs and also that the total should not cross 140, as well as that Hyderabad should not win the match. I told Pritam that some signal should also be given. Pritam replied saying he would finalise everything and inform Amir, and that I should contact Amir. Then we returned to Mumbai," he added.
The report further said Patel told police that Amir confirmed him the next day that everything was finalised, adding that a signal about the confirmation of the 'fix' will come from Hyderabad in the form of one of their batsmen getting out in the second over.
Hyderabad lost Quinton de Kock for 2 in the second over, scored 45/2 in the first 10 overs and made 119/8 in 20 overs. Perera scored 2, Reddy 19* and Karn Sharma 7. Hyderabad, however, went on to win the match by dismissing Pune for 108. Sharma bowled a spell of 3-0-13-1.
The Indian Express did ask about the report to Hyderabad's media manager, Sankapani, who chose to duck under. "Our focus is on the sport right now. We are here to play cricket and nothing else," he told the newspaper.
A senior Crime Branch office, however, told the newspaper that the four Hyderabad players have not been named as accused in the chargesheet and that no fixing actually took place. "The cricketers' names cropped up in Chandresh Patel's statement as he claimed that he met them. They find mention in the chargesheet only as part of Patel's statement, but they have not been named as accused in the chargesheet," the officer said.
"The matter was pursued by us till the extent possible, but it was found that this was merely an attempt to approach the cricketers, and there was no fixing that actually took place. Since it was merely an attempt by Patel, and nothing came of it, we did not pursue it any further," he said.
The Sri Lankan cricket board has also dismissed the allegations against Perera, saying that they have not been intimated about any such incident by the Indian board and that they have "full confidence in all their players."