Top int’l cricketers involved in spot-fixing during 2011-12: report

Pakistan's Umar Akmal, right, pictured with a Munawar associate. The player depicted is not implicated in any wrongdoing. Source: Al Jazeera

Aneel Munawar, an alleged match-fixer on ICC’s radar, is said to have been involved in 26 spot-fixing instances in six Tests, six ODIs and three World T20 matches between 2011-12, according to a documentary report by Al Jazeera released on Sunday.

Titled ‘Cricket’s Match Fixers: The Munawar Files’, the documentary claims fixed passages of play in seven matches by England players, five matches by Australia players, three matches by Pakistan players, and in one match by players from another country. Moreover, top Indian cricketers, including Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli were photographed with the suspected match-fixer.

The high-profile matches under the scanner this time include the 2011 Lord’s Test between England and India and the 2011 Cape Town Test between South Africa and Australia, along with five matches in the 2011 World Cup and three in the 2012 World T20 in Sri Lanka. The documentary also pointed out at successful spot-fixing in each of the three England-Pakistan Tests in 2012 in the UAE.

The documentary pivots around the pictures and recordings – ‘The Munawar Files’ that Al Jazeera’s investigative unit claims to have obtained. The files include recordings of calls made by Munawar to Dinesh Khambat, a subordinate to Dinesh Kalgi who was a serial bookmaker based out of Ahmedabad before he died in 2014. Details of at least three fixes during the 2012 World T20 held in Sri Lanka were provided by Munawar to Kalgi, which included the England-Afghanistan match.

The documentary also revealed a phone call made by Munawar to an unnamed England player just before the start of the 2011 World Cup. He is heard telling the player: “Congratulations for the Ashes. The last payment is ready for going in the account. You will be credited in a week.” The player is heard saying “lovely” in reply, although the audio was distorted to conceal the identity of the player. Al Jazeera claims to have approached the said player, who claimed that the conversation didn’t take place and that the call recording was “fabricated”.

The documentary also revealed pictures of Umar Akmal meeting a ‘D-Company’ associate in the hotel lobby on the night of the fix in the third Pakistan-England Test in Dubai. Akmal and the ‘D-Company’ associate are then photographed with a second man in the hotel lobby, with whom Akmal shakes hands and is seen inspecting a bag. The photographs, however, do not show Akmal leaving the lobby with the bag.

Akmal, in June this year, was summoned by Pakistan Cricket Board’s anti-corruption unit after he made claims that he was approached to fix matches in the Hong Kong Super Sixes, Pakistan’s series against South Africa in the UAE, and the 2015 World Cup. Akmal had said that he was first approached during his second stint in Hong Kong, and was offered as much as USD 200,000 to play two dot balls. He also reported being approached for Pakistan’s group game against India in the 2015 World Cup in one of many approaches before matches against India.

The documentary claims that Munawar successfully predicted 25 out of 26 outcomes; in the one he couldn’t, Munawar missed the mark by a solitary run.

Reacting to the allegations in the documentary, Alex Marshall, general manager of ICC’s ACU, said: “I must refute the assertion that cricket does not take the issue of corruption seriously. We have more resources than ever before working to rid out sport of corruption.

“The investigation into these allegations has already commenced and will run alongside a number of other live unrelated investigations. Considering the claims, we will work with professional independent betting analysts.”

As it had done earlier, the ICC has again requested the broadcaster to cooperate with the cricket governing body’s investigation into corruption in the sport while appreciating Al Jazeera’s intention to share a copy of its investigation with Interpol.