Two Indian cricketers arrested in growing ‘spot-fixing’ scandal


BENGALURU: Former Karnataka Ranji players CM Gautam and Abrar Kazi have been arrested on charges of spot-fixing in the Karnataka Premier League (KPL) final earlier this year. Gautam, captain of Bellary Tuskers, and his team-mate Kazi allegedly accepted Rs 20 lakh (approximately $28,000) for “slow batting” in the tournament final against Hubli Tigers, which the Tuskers lost by eight runs.

Gautam and Kazi are also alleged to have been involved in fixing another match, against the Bengaluru Blasters.

Gautam is one of the biggest names in Karnataka cricket and was a central figure in the Karnataka team that won back-to-back domestic trebles in 2013-14 and 2014-15. He moved to Goa this season after nine years with his home team and was named their captain for the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, which begins on Friday, but his contract has now been terminated with immediate effect. Vipul Phadke, GCA secretary, told ESPNcricinfo that Gautam left the Goa squad abruptly on Tuesday. “He told the coach (Dodda Ganesh, former Karnataka and India fast bowler), he had to leave urgently.”

“The CCB has made two important arrests in the KPL spot-fixing scandal,” Sandeep Patil, the Joint Commissioner of Police, told ESPNcricinfo in a text message. “Bellary team captain CM Gautam and Abrar Kazi were arrested. They did spot-fixing in KPL 2019 finals between Hubli and Bellary. They were paid Rs 20 lakhs for slow batting. Also, they fixed another match against the Bangalore team. Further investigations are on and more arrests will be made.”

Today’s arrests come a day after Karnataka Police’s Central Crime Branch (CCB) arrested another player, Nishant Shekhawat, for allegedly acting as an intermediary between bookies and players. As of Thursday, seven people – including four players – have been arrested in relation to fixing in the KPL. More arrests are expected, the CCB said.

Gautam is by far the highest profile name to emerge in the KPL fixing scandal, which broke in September with the arrest of Belagavi Panthers owner Ali Asfak Thara, and the consequent suspension of the franchise. Gautam was a long-term deputy of Vinay Kumar, and stood in for him in three matches 2013, captaining a team with the likes of Robin Uthappa, KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, and Manish Pandey. Gautam also played for India A and has played for Royal Challengers Bangalore, Mumbai Indians, and Delhi Daredevils in the IPL.

Kazi, a bowling allrounder who also played under Gautam at some point, had a more stop-start career with Karnataka before moving onto Nagaland last year and making three 150+ scores as a middle-order batsman. He transferred to Mizoram at the start of this season. Kazi has played a solitary game for RCB.

The Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) has suspended Gautam and Kazi with immediate effect. This means they cannot play any cricket organised by the KSCA while their suspension stands. A statement from the association, signed by its secretary Santosh Menon, has said it will take “appropriate and stringent action” if they are found guilty.