Ashraful admits fixing as scandal spreads

Updated 05 June 2013
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Ashraful admits fixing as scandal spreads

DHAKA: Former Bangladesh cricket captain and national hero Mohammad Ashraful yesterday admitted match-fixing, further shaking confidence in the game and deepening a betting scandal that has engulfed Asian cricket.
Ashraful was earlier suspended from the sport by Bangladesh’s cricket chiefs following allegations of fixing during international matches and a domestic Twenty20 tournament.
“I should have not done this injustice to the nation. I feel guilty,” Ashraful, who captained Bangladesh between 2007 and 2009, told the Independent TV channel.
“I would only say ‘Please all forgive me, my conduct was improper’,” he added.
The 28-year-old’s admission is the latest controversy to hit the sport, already reeling from spot-fixing and betting probes in neighboring India where three cricketers and numerous bookmakers are among those arrested.
A court Tuesday denied Indian Test paceman Shanthakumaran Sreesanth and 22 others bail after police said they now had evidence to prove the involvement of organized crime syndicates in fixing Indian Premier League (IPL) matches.
Sreesanth and two of this teammates from the Rajasthan Royals franchise were arrested last month for allegedly deliberately bowling badly during IPL matches in exchange for tens of thousands of dollars from bookmakers.
During the hearing in New Delhi, police said India’s most wanted man Dawood Ibrahim — an alleged underworld don with links to militant groups — was a ringleader in the scandal, according to the Press Trust of India.
“This organized crime syndicate besides controlling illegal betting was indulging in fixing performance of players and also the rates of betting,” a police officer told the court.
Spot-fixing, in which a specific part of the match but not the outcome is fixed, is illegal. Placing bets on the IPL is also illegal under India’s laws which ban gambling on all sports except horse-racing.
India’s powerful cricket chief has stepped aside over the scandal, which has led to the arrest of his son-in-law over illegal betting in the domestic Twenty20 competition.
A court in the southern city of Mumbai on Tuesday granted the son-in-law, Gurunath Meiyappan, bail over his alleged role along with a Bollywood actor.
In Bangladesh, Ashraful apologized for his involvement in fixing and said he had confessed all to anti-corruption officials from the International Cricket Council.
His apology came shortly after the Bangladesh Cricket Board president Nazmul Hassan announced the right-handed batsman had been suspended pending the full report of an investigation by the ICC officials.
The ICC’s Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) has been probing allegations of match-fixing during the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL), a Twenty20 competition.
Ashraful became the country’s youngest Test centurion in 2001 at the age of 17 and captained Bangladesh between 2007 and 2009.
The alleged fixing involves a match between the Dhaka Gladiators and the Chittagong Kings teams during the second edition of the BPL.
Local media have reported that 28-year-old Gladiators star Ashraful was allegedly paid about one million taka ($12,800) to lose the February 2 match.
The batsman was also allegedly involved in fixing another match 10 days later against the Barisal Burners, which his team lost by seven wickets, reports have said.
The ACSU team left Bangladesh on Monday and is expected to hand over the findings of its probe within a week, Hassan said.
During the ACSU’s probe into the BPL, the officials discovered allegations of fixing during some international matches, Hassan said, prompting a wider probe.
“This is no more limited to the BPL. The ICC itself will launch a full-fledged massive investigation into those allegations,” Hassan said, without giving details.
Hassan made the comments after he was asked about a recent newspaper report alleging Ashraful’s involvement in fixing in Twenty20 matches between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
The ICC declined to comment on whether it was launching a wider probe involving international marches.
“The ICC can confirm that the ACSU has interviewed Mohammad Ashraful who is helping us in the ongoing investigations. Due to sensitivities around these investigations, the ICC cannot share any more details at this stage,” an ICC spokesman said.
The scandals in India and Bangladesh follow the banning of Pakistani cricketers Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer for spot-fixing during a 2010 Lord’s Test against England.


Shane Watson ton takes Chennai Super Kings to third IPL title

Updated 15 min 12 sec ago
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Shane Watson ton takes Chennai Super Kings to third IPL title

  • Australian hits 117 off 57 balls as Chennai chase down 178-6
  • 'He is a world class player'

MUMBAI: Shane Watson fought through the pain barrier to smash an unbeaten 117 as Chennai Super Kings thrashed Sunrisers Hyderabad to win their third Indian Premier League title in a spectacular return from a two-year corruption ban.
The 36-year-old Australian, struggling with a hamstring injury, hit eight sixes and 11 fours in a stunning 57-ball innings as Chennai took just 18.3 overs to overcome Hyderabad’s 178-6 off 20 overs.
Chennai finished on 181-2 to crush their opponents by eight wickets. They have now equalled the Mumbai Indians in winning the world’s wealthiest cricket tournament for the third time since it started in 2008.
Ambati Rayudu who hit a four to complete victory was also unbeaten on 16 in Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium, which was packed with more than 33,000 fans.
He led tributes to Watson.
“His experience saw us through. He is a world class player and when he is there anything can happen,” Rayudu said.
Hyderabad coach Tom Moody added Watson had produced “something special.”
But the Australian hero said he had been happy to get through the night because of his injury and after failing to score a run in the first 10 balls of his innings.
“I knew I had to start getting runs quickly after those 10 balls,” he said.
“We had to get the rate back up to a run a ball. But once the ball stopped swinging, it became easier.”
Watson has had longstanding hamstring problems which has worsened as the gruelling IPL season reached the finale.
“Throughout the back end of the tournament I was hanging on for dear life,” he said, praising coach Stephen Fleming and captain M.S. Dhoni for the way he had been protected in games.
Chennai, IPL winners in 2010 and 2011, were banned for two seasons in 2015 along with Rajasthan Royals after team officials were found guilty of involvement in illegal gambling.
Dhoni won the toss and put Hyderabad into bat. Their New Zealand captain Kane Williamson hit a top-score 47 as Sunrisers posted 178-6.
The 27-year-old Williamson, a last minute replacement for scandal-tainted David Warner as captain, has been an impressive leader, amassing 735 runs including eight half centuries in 17 matches.
He was supported by Yusuf Pathan who hit an unbeaten 45 off 25 balls, including four fours and two sixes. Carlos Brathwaite also hit an 11-ball 21 to help Hyderabad add 52 runs in the last five overs.
But after reining in Watson at the start and taking South African opener Faf du Plessis for 10 in the third over, the Hyderabad bowlers were put to the sword.
Watson and Suresh Raina put on a swashbuckling 117-run second-wicket stand with Raina hitting 32.
Afghanistan teen sensation Rashid Khan returned figures of 0-24 for Hyderabad but Watson hit the other bowlers to every corner of the stadium.
The big-hitting Aussie allrounder plundered 27 runs off one over of paceman Sandeep Sharma.
Watson took a single off Khan to bring up his hundred in 51 balls and then acknowledged a standing ovation from the Chennai dugout and the crowd with his team already in sight of their IPL triumph.
Watson was just one of nine members of the Chennai squad to be aged over 30. But triumphant captain Dhoni, who has also won three IPL titles, said agility was more important.
“It is the fitness that really matters more than the age aspect,” said the former India captain, 36.
“What captains want is players who move well in the field. It doesn’t matter which year a player is born in, whether you are 19 or 20 — you have to be agile.”
But Dhoni acknowledged that he could not push his whole team to run like a 20-year-old. “If I push Watson to stop a single, there is a very good chance that he’ll burst his hamstring and won’t be available for the next game.
“So what you tell yourself is that they have to commit and try, but there’s no point getting injured for a single.”
The winners of the final were guaranteed a minimum $4 million in prize money.