The latest update in the tainted Karnataka Premier League (KPL) once again tarnishes the game of cricket. The authorities have charged more than 16 individuals who were involved in the 2019 KPL.
Two KPL Team Owners Charged
The match fixing challenge came to light in 2019 as the authorities first pulled up player Abrar Kazi for taking bribes for fixing the final match. After further investigation, as many as 16 individuals were interrogated for their role in match fixing. The big concern for the BCCI as well as cricket fans in India is that their match fixing scandal in the KPL wasn’t just limited to the players but also involved team owners.
The Belgavi Panthers team owner Ali Asfak Thara and Bellary Tuskers team owner Arvind Reddy were interrogated by the authorities and charged with match fixing. Some of the other individuals charged include ex-Karnataka player Sudhindra Shinde who was a part of the managing committee of the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA); Bangalore Blasters players M Viswanathan and Nishant Shekhawat.
The individuals were charged under section 420 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which is based on the intention to cheat. Apart from the team owners and players, the authorities also arrested and questioned a number of bookies.
It appears that the police are not very keen on rushing and closing the investigation as they want to do a thorough job and see if there are any other connections that have not yet been unearthed.
KPL Franchises Will Be Suspended If Owners Are Guilty
The KSCA has decided not to proceed with the 2020 edition of the KPL until the investigation is completed. KSCA President Roger Binny has confirmed that if the investigation proves that the two team owners are guilty of match fixing, then their respective KPL franchises will be suspended.
There is no information as of now as to how long the team franchises will be suspended. The KSCA has also not confirmed what kind of penalties they will impose on their players, if found guilty.
A similar incident occurred in the popular Indian Premier League (IPL). Players and team owners were found to have ties with bookies. As a result, the IPL governing committee suspended Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Rajasthan Royals (RR) for two years.
Cricket Continues To Attract Match Fixing
While India is a cricket crazy nation, the number of match fixing incidents in the sub-continent is harming the game. A number of fans are therefore walking away.
ICC and BCCI continue to take strict steps to educate cricketers about the issues of match fixing. However, match fixers continue to approach players as there is a lot of money at stake.
BCCI President Sourav Ganguly has been reluctant to take a decision to ban state sponsored T20 leagues. This despite both KPL and Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL) being tarnished by fixing allegations. Ganguly prefers to carry out investigations and then remove the individuals, rather than scrap the full league.
However, when franchise owners have also implicated themselves, it becomes very hard to run a clean T20 league. Leave alone regaining the confidence of the fans. It might be better for Indian cricket if the BCCI suspends all domestic T20 leagues and only runs the IPL.