In what is being called a credibility crisis for Indian cricket, pacer S Sreesanth and two of his Rajasthan Royals teammates Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila were arrested by Delhi Police in the wee hours on Thursday from different places in Mumbai on charges of spot-fixing in at least three Indian Premier League games. The police also arrested 11 bookies.
A little before midnight on Wednesday, right after losing the RR-MI game at Wankhede, Sreesanth and Chavan made their way to the swanky pub Or-G in Bandra (W), said an insider from the pub.
Oblivious that they had been on the police radar for the past several weeks right up to that moment, the duo went in to meet a bookie Mithania, even as a cop squad was waiting in the wings outside the bar.
A special team of the Delhi Police, helped by the Mumbai Crime Branch, had been hot on the cricketer's trail for the past few weeks. On the day, the sleuths kept tabs on each and every movement of Sreesanth and his two teammates. Even at the time Sreesanth left the stadium, cops were ceaselessly tracking him. The thorough surveillance culminated that night in a brilliantly laid trap outside the pub.
A source from Mumbai police, who was part of the special team that arrested the accused, said, "After spending half an hour at the pub, Ankeet Chavan left the pub, and one of the police teams began tailing him. When he reached the Intercontinental Hotel, cops arrested him. In the meantime, Sreesanth was still with Mithania inside the pub."
Around 1.30 am, Sreesanth left the pub, got in a car and began driving to Waterfield Road in Bandra, the source said. Mithania, too, got in another car and drove off. The police team broke up and got behind their quarries. No sooner did Sreesanth's car reach Moti Mahal than the cops, stealthily chasing it all the while, intercepted it. The source said that three women were also present in the car. They are being questioned by the police.
In the meantime, the other police team nabbed Mithania from Linking Road. Sreesanth's teammate Chandila was also arrested from the Trident Hotel.
In a media briefing on Thursday afternoon, Delhi Police showed clippings of the three matches in which the players were allegedly involved in fixing specific overs.
The police also read out transcripts of conversations between the cricketers and the bookies, and played video clips where players were seen giving 'indications' ahead of a 'fixed' over. More than 100 hours of audio clippings were investigated by the police to get clues to the cricketers' involvement.
The officials said that Chandila received Rs 20 lakh, Sreesanth and Chavan allegedly received Rs 40 lakh and Rs 50 lakh respectively for collaborating with bookies or their agents. The bowlers had allegedly been asked to give away a minimum of 14 runs in their second overs.