The time bomb waiting to explode

Incriminating details emerge from tapes of phone calls between Vindoo Dara Singh and Gurunath Meiyappan.

The BCCI is currently busy juggling electoral equations ahead of the AGM on September 29. Some factions are trying to find a way to end president N Srinivasan's reign, others working overtime to keep him in the seat for another term.

Meanwhile, more details of the match-fixing scandal that had rocked the IPL in may have emerged. Taped phone conversations between Vindoo Dara Singh and former Chennai Super Kings team principal Gurunath Meiyappan suggest that there may be more to the whole affair than an administrator exchanging harmless information with a punter. Could it be possible that the CSK's players were under orders from Meiyappan's to underperform?

Gaurav Kalra writes about the incident on his blog:

[On] May 12 Gurunath Meiyappan, the team principal and co-owner of the Chennai Super Kings and subsequently a mere enthusiast had a conversation with Vindoo Dara Singh, small time actor and the frontman for a set of bookies. In that conversation, Meiyappan made a startling claim: "My team is going to make between 130 and 140 runs".

Now as a privilege of his position, Meiyappan could have been in a team meeting where the management came to the conclusion that a target of between 130 to 140 runs might be adequate in the prevailing conditions. To bring that up in a casual conversation with a friend is hardly a crime. But Meiyappan and Vindoo were not friends. They were business partners. Vindoo promptly relayed this bit of crucial insider information to the bookies he worked for. Once the game begins, Meiyappan informs Vindoo the team he is in-charge of will lose. Ethical boundaries were being breached with impunity already not to speak of gross violations of the code of conduct a team owner is expected to follow.

With the benefit of hindsight, the police charge acquires a terrifying menace if you examine the scorecard from that game in Jaipur on May 12. For the first half of the Chennai Super Kings innings after they are asked to bat on losing the toss, Meiyappan's prediction appears way off the mark. At the end of 10 overs, the Super Kings have 75 runs on the board. Openers Murali Vijay and Mike Hussey have laid the platform for their strong middle order. Surely over the next 10 overs with wickets in hand, the Super Kings can set of target anything between 170 to 180 runs.

The innings though starts to lose impetus with the exit of Hussey in the 12th over. Two wickets fall in the 13th over. First Raina and then Dhoni depart for single digit scores. Suddenly caution is called for and a repair job of sorts is needed. The 14th over produces 5 runs. 15th over- 6 runs. 16th over- 6 runs. 17th over- 8 runs. 18th over- 3 runs and a wicket. Suddenly, with two overs left in the innings, the Super Kings are stumbling at 116 for 4. The penultimate over is taken for 14 runs. The final over begins with the Super Kings at 130/4. The first five balls produce 7 runs. Dwayne Bravo finds the boundary off the last ball to take his team to 141/4 at the end of the innings. Chillingly, just ONE run more than the upper limit his team owner assured Vindoo of on the phone. In 51 balls since their first wicket fell, the Super Kings scored 58 runs for a further loss of just three more wickets. No collapse, just a sudden drop in momentum. Also as predicted by their team owner, they go on to lose the game.

Meanwhile, Mihir Vasavada of Indian Express reports of the gifts allegedly received by umpire Asad Rauf, who has since the scandal been banned by the ICC for fraternising with bookmakers.

Eleven belts, eight suits, a Panasonic nasal hair trimmer, seven pieces of dress materials for women and a Tommy Hilfiger pen...these are just a few of the expensive gifts that bookies had allegedly bought for controversial Pakistani umpire Asad Rauf during the IPL tournament earlier this year, according to the chargesheet filed by the Mumbai Police in the betting and spot-fixing case.

The 11,000-page document also has details of telephone intercepts of May 12 in which Rauf, while allegedly placing bets with bookie Prem Taneja, is quoted as confirming receiving a watch and demanding Rs 2 lakh to go shopping.

Rauf, says the report, had been in regular touch with Vindoo:

Rauf was in Mumbai on May 14 as he was to officiate in the match between the Mumbai Indians and Rajasthan Royals on May 15.

In fact, there were 80 calls exchanged between Rauf and bookie Vindoo Dara Singh between April 12 and May 17. Rauf's local phone number and sim card is said to have provided to him by Sanjay Chhabra, a well-known bookie, for whom Taneja was working.

During one of those calls, Rauf is believed to have asked for 'birthday gifts' from Vindoo. According to the police transcripts, Rauf told Vindoo: "Do you know my birthday is coming up?" to which the actor replied: "Asadbhai, don't worry, we will take care of it. I will convey the message to Pawanbhai (Pawan Jaipur, a bookie)."

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