The Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has registered a First Information Report (FIR) against two individuals — Rakesh Bafna and Jitendra Kothari — at the Ashok Nagar Police Station in Bengaluru for an alleged attempt of match-fixing and cheating.
According to the FIR, Bafna had approached one of the prominent members of India’s national women’s team (name withheld on request) earlier this year, offering her huge amount of money if she joined hands with them.
The incident happened in February, ahead of India women’s team’s limited-overs series against England — which was part of the International Cricket Council (ICC)’s World Championships.
“Today, we have got an FIR registered against two people in Bengaluru. The FIR pertains to an approach that was made to one of the women cricketers of the team. She reported the approach to us and even recorded the conversation she had with one of the accused over the telephone,” BCCI ACU chief, Ajit Singh, told Sportstar.
Kothari — who claimed to be a sports manager — got in touch with the cricketer last year through Instagram, offering her managerial services. After a few weeks, Kothari couriered a copy of a contract, but the player could not sign it since she was touring with the Indian team. However, the cricketer decided to not sign the contract later.
In February this year, Kothari again contacted the player and put her through to Bafna — claiming he had a business offer for her. At that time, the player was at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru, undergoing recovery sessions.
“Kothari was trying to sell himself as the manager of various women cricketers. It was he who introduced Bafna to the player. He approached her to fix matches and play according to the script,” Singh said.
It has been learned that Bafna offered the player Rs 1 lakh per match — during the India-England series. Bafna — who hails from Odisha — also requested the player if the ODI captain of the team could also be roped in for the ‘plan’.
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“Initially the call was made via WhatsApp and Bafna said that endorsement would be for a noted Indian clothing brand. But soon, he directly approached her to fix matches. The player told him that there is a bad connection and she could call her on her regular number,” Singh said.
On realizing that things were fishy, the cricketer recorded the conversation and reported the matter to the BCCI ACU.
Since the incident happened before an ICC event, the ICC anti-corruption unit got into the business and after investigation, observed that “Bafna took advantage of Kothari’s inaptitude, and the player had rightly made a report of the approachment. Bafna was warned for his action and was reported to the BCCI and ICC.”
However, later the BCCI ACU observed that Kothari attempted to contact other members of the women’s team as well and “conspired with Bafna with the intention to fix matches.”
Lauding the young cricketer for reporting the matter to the ACU immediately, Singh said that it was important for the women cricketers to also be careful. “People involved in betting just need any cricket match, for them, it does not matter at what level it is being played. If a match is a telecast, that helps them in betting and that’s why they indulge in spot-fixing,” the ACU chief, a former Rajasthan DGP, said.
This news was first published on the SportsStar by Shayan Acharya.
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