Ex-Karnataka skipper, bowler arrested for fixing
- Gautam and Kazi played for KPL team Ballari Tuskers, which lost the final against Hubli Tigers in Mysuru on August 31.
- Gautam led the team and opened the innings in the chase and is accused of deliberately "batting slow".
- Kazi is also accused of taking Rs 7.5 lakh to leak runs in a league-stage match against another KPL team, Bengaluru Blasters.
BENGALURU: The central crime branch of Bengaluru police on Thursday arrested keeper-batsman CM Gautam and left-arm spinner Abrar Kazi, both former Karnataka Ranji players, for alleged spot-fixing in the final of 2019's Karnataka Premier League.
Gautam was recently named Goa's captain after a long stint with Karnataka, while Kazi was a member of the Mizoram team. The two played for KPL team Ballari Tuskers, which lost the final against Hubli Tigers in Mysuru on August 31. Gautam led the team and opened the innings in the chase. He is accused of deliberately "batting slow".
"Gautam took Rs 20 lakh from a bookie for batting slow, among other things (in the final). He and Kazi also fixed a match against Bengaluru Blasters," said joint police commissioner Sandeep Patil.
Kazi is also accused of taking Rs 7.5 lakh to leak runs in a league-stage match against another KPL team, Bengaluru Blasters.
Investigators claimed Gautam had confessed. Patil told TOI that apart from his statement, investigators had sufficient evidence to prove Gautam's involvement in match-fixing and spot-fixing. "Inquiries are still under way, and more information cannot be divulged at this juncture. But we suspect some more people may be involved in the case," he said.
Thursday's arrests are a major twist in the growing scandal, which has also ensnared the owner of a different team, Belagavi Panthers. In all, seven people have been arrested.
Gautam previously captained the Karnataka Ranji team. He shifted to Goa this season. He also represented India A and was a member of at least three Indian Premier League (IPL) teams. Royal Challenges Bangalore never picked him in the playing 11, but he made the cut for Mumbai Indians and Delhi Daredevils.
Police sources said investigators were reviewing the events of the KPL final on August 31 and trying to determine if Gautam's slow batting alone contributed to the loss.
They said the central crime branch picked up Gautam in Bengaluru on Thursday morning and he was aware that he was a target of the police inquiry. Some of his associates had already been quizzed.
Gautam and Kazi's WhatsApp messages and calls have been reviewed, and the agency had also verified the places where they allegedly met those looking for players' cooperation to fix spots or matches, according to the sources.
One officer said dishonest players and bookies had various codes of communication and therefore establishing evidence in court would be a challenge. "We are gathering all possible circumstantial evidence to support the case," the officer said.
Another source claimed Belagavi Panthers owner Ali Asfak Thara paid Gautam Rs 20 lakh for slow batting. In Ballari Tuskers' match against Bengaluru Blasters, Kazi was allegedly asked to concede more than 10 runs in the fifth over, which he did. It was Gautam's call to give him that over. The successful arrangement led to a windfall for bookies associated with Thara, the source claimed.
2019 KPL FINAL: WHAT HAPPENED ON AUGUST 31
The teams: Bellari Tuskers and Hubli Tigers. The game was played at Mysuru's Srikantadatta Narasimha Raja Wadiyar Ground.
Hubli Tigers set a target of 152. Bellary Tuskers, led by wicketkeeper CM Gautam, fell short by 8 runs.
Gautam opened for his team, scoring 29 of 37 balls, which included two boundaries. He kept at it till the 14th over, when Bellary Tuskers' score was 100/3. He was caught off the bowling of Hubli Tigers allrounder Shreyas Gopal.
Gautam's teammate, Abrar Kazi, who came in to bat much later, was run out after scoring 13 of six balls, which included one maximum.
Central Crime Branch alleged on Thursday that Gautam and Kazi deliberately batted slow to wreck their team's chances.
Under Gautam's captaincy, Bellary Tuskers had entered the knockouts after topping the table, winning four out of six matches.
WHO IS GAUTAM?
EARLY YEARS: Born on March 8, 1986, in an educated and well-established family.
DEBUT AND RANJI GLORY: Made his debut for Karnataka as a batsman against UP in 2008 before taking over wicketkeeping duties from Thilak Naidu. Integral part of the Ranji Trophy-winning Karnataka team in 2013-14 and 2014-15.
IPL STINT: Was a member of RCB in 2011 and 2012, but didn't make playing XI. Daredevils signed him for a 1-year contract in 2013. In 2014, went to MI for 20 lakh.
SHIFT TO GOA: Recently shifted to Goa, where he became captain. Following his arrest, the Goa Cricket Association (GCA) on Thursday cancelled his contract.