New Delhi – Former India Test bowler Shanthakumaran Sreesanth and two other players have been arrested by Delhi police on suspicion of spot-fixing in the Indian Premier League, sports officials said on Thursday.
India's cricket board (BCCI) immediately suspended Sreesanth and his Rajasthan Royals teammates Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila and promised that stricter punishments would await if they are found guilty.
"All information required to bring the persons involved to book will be collected and strictest action will be taken, if found guilty," BCCI secretary Sanjay Jagdale said in a statement.
"The BCCI has zero tolerance to corruption. We will offer all cooperation to the Delhi police and all other authorities in their investigations in this matter."
Spot-fixing is the manipulation of individual incidents within a match which may not affect the outcome of the contest, most famously exposed in a London trial and jailing of three Pakistani cricketers in 2011.
Paceman Sreesanth, 30, has a chequered past littered with on-field antics that frequently landed him in trouble since his 2006 Test debut at home against England.
The combative right-arm speedster has played 27 Tests and 53 one-day internationals but injuries and disciplinary issues have kept him out of the side since late 2011.
Last year, the Indian cricket board banned one uncapped cricketer for life and handed out lesser punishments to four others following similar allegations of corruption in domestic cricket.
"The BCCI engages the services of the anti-corruption wing of the ICC to educate and monitor players and support staff in prevention of corruption of any form in the game," Jagdale said.
"It is wholly unfortunate that despite such education, best playing conditions and terms of engagement offered, some players seem to be indulging in such activity."
Legal gambling in India is confined to horse-racing while casinos are allowed only in a couple of states.
In such an atmosphere, illegal syndicates continue to thrive and Indian media estimates put the amount bet on 2009 IPL Twenty20 competition at $427 million.
Sports Minister Jitendra Singh termed the players' arrest as "unfortunate" and has asked the cricket board to put in place a mechanism that would prevent such "unethical activities".
Pakistan players Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir were jailed in Britain for their role in a spot-fixing scandal relating to a test match against England at Lord's in August 2010.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) subsequently banned the three players for a minimum of five years. – Reuters