MUMBAI: Here's a lead for the International Cricket Council's ( ICC) Anti-Corruption Unit to probe into. A top bookmaker in India, who strictly maintains that he is not involved in the player-bookie nexus, says the December 15, 2009 India- Sri Lanka One-day match at Rajkot was suspicious. "Saaf nahi tha (it wasn't clean)," he told TOI on Friday.
Sri Lanka won the toss, elected to field and India ran amok scoring 414 runs on a placid track. In reply, Sri Lanka rode on Tillakaratne Dilshan's massive 160 and almost chased the target before falling short by 3 runs. Sri Lanka bowled 27 extras in the game, India bowled 21 and a total of 825 runs were scored at the Madhavrao Scindia ground that day.
"Sri Lanka were 401/5 with just 14 more runs needed from seven balls. The bets were coming in fast because punters wanted to balance the stakes. At the start, India looked firm favourites and there were almost no takers for Sri Lanka win. But towards the end, it all became a frenzy," says the bookie.
Right then, he received a text message on his mobile. The sender was a 20-year-old boy from Rajasthan who earlier used to work for him as a cleaner. He wrote: "Sab saude kaat do, aur call mat lena. India match le jar raha hai (Cancel all deals and don't take any further bets. India is winning the game)."
The bookmaker says instinct made him listen to his former employee and he turned out right. India won by three runs.
What was behind the SMS may never be known but the bookie continues to harp on the rumour of the amount of money that was transacted that night. "I am told that money around Rs 28 crore ($ 7m) changed hands that night," he says.
It is for the relevant authorities to try and see if there was any truth to the allegations. The bookie also went on to add a little more after his 'fixing' theory. "That was the last match that I heard was suspicious. I can also say that Indian players are clean. They're among the most impeccable, especially the senior players," he says.
With skeletons tumbling out of the Pakistan closet, while that may be of slight relief, it is still disturbing that there is talk a fixed game being played less than a year back in India. And one man, claims he has circumstantial evidence to prove it happened. Will the authorities probe this claim?