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IT department raids cricketers' homes
V Ramnarayan - 20 July 2001

The noose tightened around the `tainted' Indian cricketers and others suspected to be involved in match fixing this week last year. On July 18, India's income tax department conducted raids at the homes of top cricket players and officials across the country, ``in a swift and well coordinated operation''.

Searches and surveys were carried out in some 90 places in what promised to be the final nail in the coffin for some of the suspects named by bookie Mukesh Gupta and hinted at by former Test cricketer Manoj Prabhakar in the match-fixing scam.

Among the homes raided in Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta, Chandigarh, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Jaipur, were those of the then national coach Kapil Dev, former captain Mohammad Azharuddin, and players Ajay Jadeja, Nayan Mongia and Nikhil Chopra.

The income tax department raids eventually helped the CBI finalise its report on the match fixing scandal. The report was released in November 2000. It indicted Azharuddin, Ajay Sharma, Jadeja and Mongia as taking part in match fixing through close association with bookies, in particular, Mukesh Gupta.

The CBI report also named a number of foreign players that Mukesh Gupta had admitted to bribing to underperform or give him pitch and other information on international matches in which they figured. These were Alec Stewart, Brian Lara, Mark Waugh, Dean Jones, Hansie Cronje, Arvinda D'Silva, Arjuna Ranatunga, Martin Crowe and Salim Malik.

In July last year, the ICC appointed Sir Paul Condon, an English police chief, as the head of its team to investigate cricket corruption. The Condon report, which was released earlier this year, spoke of ``at least 20 years of corruption, linked to betting on international cricket matches.''

In India, the BCCI appointed K Madhavan, a former CBI official, to go into the CBI findings and, based on his recommendations, slapped a life ban on Azharuddin and five-year bans on Sharma, Jadeja and Prabhakar.

Stewart, Mark Waugh, Ranatunga and D'Silva have been cleared of the charges for want of evidence while Malik has been banned for life. Azharuddin and Jadeja have gone to court contesting the actions taken against them by the BCCI and Malik has done likewise in Pakistan. Hansie Cronje is also challenging his cricket board's lifetime ban on him, pleading to be allowed to coach young cricketers.

The match-fixing controversy that took the cricket world by storm when the Delhi police zoomed in on Cronje in April last year has changed the face of cricket and no one is convinced that all the guilty have been punished, despite the efforts of the various cricket bodies.

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