India news March 28, 2014

Dhoni's comments on Gurunath under spotlight

ESPNcricinfo staff

MS Dhoni has found himself in the spotlight in the IPL corruption case against the BCCI, which is being heard by India's Supreme Court. Over the last two days, counsel for both sides raised the issue of Dhoni's responses to the Mudgal probe committee when he was asked about the role in Chennai Super Kings of N Srinivasan's son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan.

BCCI counsel CA Sundaram said Dhoni had been unnecessarily vilified by the opposing counsel. Harish Salve, counsel for the Cricket Association of Bihar, had alleged that Dhoni had indulged in "corrupt conduct" by denying knowledge of Gurunath's role in his IPL franchise.

"I think that comments on Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, that he tried to cover up, were most unfortunate, were reckless and were never ought to have been made," Sundaram said. He also said all that the Mudgal committee had asked Dhoni was whether Gurunath had a role in the cricketing affairs of Chennai Super Kings and added that there was documentary proof to support his statement. He said Dhoni had not used the word 'enthusiast' when speaking to the Mudgal committee.

In the Mudgal report, the only mention of the Dhoni's deposition is as follows: "Mr MS Dhoni, Mr N Srinivasan and officials of India Cements took the stand that Mr Meiyappan had nothing to do with the cricketing affairs of Chennai Super Kings and was a mere cricket enthusiast supporting Super Kings." Dhoni's deposition to the Mudgal committee was recorded and transcripts were available to both lawyers. Gurunath's role in CSK is understood to be one of several queries made to Dhoni.

Salve stood by his comments on Tuesday - the day he made the comments - and said, "The submissions being made by BCCI today were unnecessary," and referred to the comments made about Dhoni in the Mudgal panel report. He told television news channel CNN-IBN that Dhoni had been "put in a difficult position" and that he should not have deposed before the committee. "He should have said I don't want to appear before the committee … but I don't know why he volunteered to appear and make this kind of a statement."

According to the IPL's anti-corruption code, which is adopted from a similar code of the ICC, Salve said, "the definition of corruption includes cover-up." If there was an inquiry ordered into a cover-up, Salve said, "he [Dhoni] will have to go and answer what he told the committee and why he told them so." By defending Dhoni, Salve said, the BCCI was "again compromising" its position.

As the BCCI was the disciplinary authority, "if somebody has made a wrong statement before the committee, [the BCCI] should call him and ask him why he said this … and he should justify this to the BCCI by saying, 'I didn't say this or I was misunderstood or confused,' or whatever answer he has to give… under what situation he made that. Instead the BCCI is already defending him."

While Salve said the Supreme Court's interim order was, "an expression of no confidence in Srinivasan," Sundaram denied it was a setback for the BCCI. "How can anything be a setback when this is the offer that the BCCI made? We are extremely clean that nobody should have any manner of doubt. We want the clean-up and this is what Srinivasan told the court also."

The hearing will resume on April 16, with the CAB arguing that the Mudgal committee report was sufficient for Srinivasan's removal. Salve said the Mudgal committee report had proved "conflict of interest in action" in the BCCI.

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