BCCI begins corruption probe
The BCCI has begun its investigation of the corruption charges against five players, with Shalabh Srivastava deposing before its inquiry commission in New Delhi.
The hearing was conducted by Ravi Sawani, head of the new anti-corruption wing announced by the BCCI on Saturday. Sawani, whose last job was heading the ICC's ACSU, has been given 15 days to carry out his investigation and report to the BCCI.
Srivastava, part of the Kings XI Punjab squad before his suspension on Tuesday, was allegedly caught on tape negotiating a fee for bowling a no-ball; India TV, which carried out the sting, ran the audio of the tape and showed footage of a player bowling a big no-ball in a limited-overs match. Srivastava has since denied any such incident.
No official comment was made on the hearing, which was held at the Maurya Sheraton hotel. It is believed that while Srivastava attended in person, and was seen at the hotel for more than an hour, the rest were contacted over the phone.
Sawani - who forms the one-man committee - will give the players time to present their defence both in person and in writing. It is also understood that at this stage there will be no legal personnel involved on either side.
This will be Sawani's first test, less than a week after his appointment to the job and before he has had time to either become acquainted with workings of the board or assemble a team.
The other players suspended by the BCCI are Mohnish Mishra, T P Sudhindra, Amit Yadav and Abhinav Bali. Mishra remained in Pune, where he has been suspended by his IPL team Pune Warriors. However, a Warriors official said he was being given "the benefit of doubt" until his case was completely heard.
Another franchise, Kings XI Punjab - which has two players, Srivastava and Yadav, implicated in the sting - issued a media release, stating that it would support the investigation and abide by any decision eventually taken by the BCCI if any player was found guilty. The statement echoed comments made to reporters by the team captain David Hussey.
Meanwhile, India's sports minister Ajay Maken said the BCCI's probe should go deeper than just the five players. "I have already said, and I am emphasising again that BCCI should go into the root cause of the problem," he said. "Suspension of five players is not enough. BCCI has to come out with a long-term solution to sort out this mess."
He also suggested that the BCCI should de-link itself from the IPL, citing the example of football's English Premier League. "IPL should be at a arm's distance from BCCI. It should not be under BCCI. IPL and BCCI should be away from each other so that there is no overlapping of interests," he said. "If you look at English Premier League and other leagues world over, they always have distance from their parent sports federations."
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo