Punjab police investigating ‘Uva T20 League’ scam

According to a news report, a T20 held near Chandigarh was broadcast online as a Sri Lankan domestic game.

The BCCI said it was keeping an eye on the investigation.   -  REUTERS

A T20 played near Chandigarh but broadcast online as a Sri Lankan domestic game has caught the attention of the BCCI anti-corruption unit, the Punjab police, and a little-known cricket association in Sri Lanka.

The Indian Express reported on Friday that a T20 on June 29 was held in Sawara village, 16km from Chandigarh, but was broadcast online as a Uva T20 League match held in Badulla, home of the Uva Province Cricket Association in Sri Lanka.

Officials belonging to the Punjab police said an investigation was on to ascertain whether a betting syndicate was involved. The BCCI said it was keeping an eye on the investigation, but only to get the details of those involved in the scam.

“Our process is on. When we will know about the people involved, we will update our database. We would like to know who was involved. However, only police can take action on this. As a BCCI enforcement agency, we have no jurisdiction over it,” BCCI anti-corruption chief Ajit Singh told PTI.

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“If it was a BCCI approved league or had players’ participation, we could have taken against them. If this is done for the purpose of betting, it is a criminal offence and police has the jurisdiction over, we don’t,” he added.

‘A farce’

The Uva Province Cricket Association wasn’t not among the most active bodies and somebody had clearly done their research, according to Bhagiradhan Balachandran, assistant secretary of the association. “No such tournament was approved or held by our association. We are investigating this matter and are in discussion with Sri Lanka Cricket,” Bhagiradhan told PTI from Badulla.

“We are not the most active cricket association in Sri Lanka, so somebody did proper research on that and used our name.” - Bhagiradhan Balachandran, secretary, Uva Province Cricket Association.

“The whole thing seems like a farce. We are not the most active cricket association in Sri Lanka, so somebody did proper research on that and used our name. We have no idea about this and no Sri Lankan players were involved,” he added.

In a statement, Sri Lanka Cricket said, “Neither SLC nor its affiliates have any knowledge or any involvement with a fantasy tournament staged by an undisclosed party under the name and title of ‘Uva Premier League T20’.

“It was noted that several Indian websites have even advertised a scoreboard on June 29 stating that the Uva Premier League T20 is being played at the Badulla Stadium, but SLC wishes to confirm that no such tournament was taking place and or will be held in Sri Lanka,” the statement read.

SLC CEO Ashley De Silva said he directed the anti-corruption officer to look into the matter.

“As such, SLC wishes to clarify that the said tournament is neither sanctioned by SLC nor organised by any of its affiliates and therefore, SLC assumes no responsibility with regard to the said tournament.”

The SLC said it had resorted to taking appropriate legal actions to prevent such incidents.

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Kuldeep Singh Chahal, Mohali’s Senior Superintendent of Police, said an investigation was in progress.

Kharar Pal Singh, the Deputy Superintendent of Police, said they had received an online complaint about the game following which two persons identified as Pankaj Jain and Raju were arrested on Thursday night.

“A case under Section 420 IPC (cheating) has been registered by the police. As per preliminary investigations, betting could be going on in the match which was held. Further investigations into the case are under progress,” Chahal told PTI.

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Asked about how the match was held despite the COVID-19 lockdown, Chahal said, “All this is being investigated, that is why we have registered a case.”

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