Former Karnataka Ranji captain Gautam, fellow player held

The Times of India

The Times of India

Author 2019-11-08 00:19:00

imgCentral Crime Branch of Bengaluru city police probing allegations of match-fixing and spot-fixing in Karnataka Premier League (KPL) netted the first big fish on Thursday, with the arrest of former Karnataka Ranji captain and wicketkeeper CM Gautam.

Announcing the arrest of Gautam, who had shifted to Goa this season, and left arm spinner Abrar Kazi, the police said that the duo was allegedly involved in match-fixing and spot-fixing during KPL final held in Mysuru on August 31 this year. They also claimed that both Gautam and Kazi have confessed to their crime.

While Gautam is captain of Ballari Tuskers and Kazi is his team-mate. Ballari Tuskers lost the match to Hubli Tigers. Besides representing India A team, Gautam was also part of at least three IPL teams. While he could not make it to the playing 11 of Royal Challengers Bengaluru, he made the cut for Mumbai Indians and Delhi Daredevils teams.

Five people including two players had been arrested earlier in connection with the KPL case.

Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Sandeep Patil said, "Gautam took Rs 20 lakh from a bookie for batting slow among other things. He and Kazi also fixed a match against Bengaluru Blasters."

Patil told TOI that besides Gautam's confession, they have enough evidence to prove his involvement in match-fixing and spot-fixing. "The case is still in investigation stage and more information cannot be divulged now. The probe will continue as we suspect there are some more to be involved in the case," he added.

Police sources, however, said that they are also looking into whether Ballari Tuskers deliberately lost the KPL final with Gautam's slow batting. Kazi was paid Rs 7.5 lakh for conceding more than 10 runs in one over during the final.

The sources were, however, tightlipped on the mode of payment received by the two players.

They said that Gautam was picked up in Bengaluru in the morning and he was aware that police were after him as many of his associates had been arrested already.

The police sources said that they have checked WhatsApp calls, messages and visited places where the duo met their collaborators to seal the deals.

They said spot-fixing follows signs and codes and only players and bookies who use them in their communication know about them. Admitting that establishing evidence in the court is a tough task, they said that they are gathering all circumstantial evidence to support their case.

The police sources said that Belagavi Panthers team owner Ali Asfak Thara allegedly paid Gautam Rs 20 lakh for batting slowly which he did. In the league match against Bengaluru Blasters, Kazi was asked to concede more than 10 runs in the fifth over which he did. Giving him fifth over to bowl was the task his captain Gautam was assigned. Kazi gave away more than 10 runs in the over. This had fetched huge money to bookies who were with Ali Asfak Thara.

The sources said that there has been pressure on the investigation team as the premiere league's image has been dented and put Karnataka cricket in a bad light. But Sandeep Patil refuted that and said that they would dig deep in to bring out the truth.

What happened in the final match on KPL 2019?

In the final match, Ballari Tuskers, chasing a target of 152 runs, lost to Hubli Tigers by eight runs. Gautam, captain and wicket keeper for Ballari Tuskers, opened the innings and scored 29 runs with two boundaries from 37 balls. After hanging around till the end of 14th over, when his team's score was 100/3, Gautam got out to the bowling of all-rounder Shreyas Gopal. His teammate Abrar Kazi, was run out when the team's score was 144/8. He had scored 13 runs including a six from six balls.

Under Gautam's captaincy, Ballari Tuskers had entered the knock-out stage by winning four matches out of six league matches and topping the table.

Who is CM Gautam?

Born on March 8, 1986 in an educated and financially well established family, CM Gautam was a Bengaluru lad who picked up cricket at a very early age. He made his debut against Uttar Pradesh in 2008 as a batsman before taking over the gloves from Thilak Naidu. Gautam was an integral part of the Ranji Trophy-winning Karnataka team in 2013-14 and 2014-15.

He was also part of Royal Challengers Bangalore in IPL 2011 and IPL 2012, but never got a chance to be part of playing 11. His impressive batting was recognized by Delhi Daredevils which signed him for a one-year contract in 2013. In 2014 IPL, he was bought for Rs 20 lakhs by Mumbai Indians.

Gautam, who played the saviour for Karnataka on many occasions, has played 94 first-class matches and amassed 4,716 runs. His highest score - an unbeaten 264 not out - came against Maharashtra in the 2012-13 season when he was the state's highest run-getter with 943 runs. Incidentally, the score was also the most number of runs scored by a wicketkeeper in the Ranji Trophy.

Gautam, who was associated with Karnataka team for more than a decade, recently shifted to Goa team and was also named its captain. After the news of his arrest on Thursday, the Goa Cricket Association (GCA) cancelled Gautam's contract and named Darshan Misal as the new captain for the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament which begins on Friday. Goa team will play against Baroda in Visakhapatnam.

Timeline

September 24: The KPL match-fixing and spot-fixing scandal came to light with the CCB arresting Belagavi Panthers team owner Ali Asfak Thara for placing bets on matches. He placed bets with a bookie who is allegedly based in Dubai. Ali was in touch with players of other teams during KPL.

October 2: CCB arrested bookies Bhavesh Bafna for trying to fix matches. They allegedly approached a Ballari Tuskers bowler to give more than 10 runs per over, but the bowler refused.

October 25: CCB arrested Bengaluru Blasters team bowling coach Vinu Prasad and batsman Vishwanathan M. The duo fixed a KPL-2018 match between Bengaluru and Belagavi teams. Vishwanathan batted slowly for which he got Rs 5 lakh.

November 5: Bengaluru Blasters batsman Nishant Singh Shekhawat was arrested for allegedly being in touch with bookies and contacting Vinu Prasad to fix other players.

November 7: Former Karnataka team captain and wicket keeper C M Gautam and left arm spinner Abrar Kazi are arrested on the charges of match-fixing and spot-fixing during KPL-2019 final match.

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