The CBI inquiry has disclosed that Manoj Prabhakar, during his playing career and after retirement, had linkages with a number of bookies/ punters. There is also evidence of his having under-performed and passed on information and introduced other players to the betting syndicate.
There is also evidence of Prabhakar receiving money from them for rendering such services. Prabhakar has also placed bets on cricket matches. According to Mukesh Kumar Gupta, he was introduced to Manoj Prabhakar in 1990 by Ajay Sharma, a fact endorsed by both Ajay Sharma and Manoj Prabhakar.
Mukesh Kumar Gupta had further stated that he paid a sum of Rs 40,000 to Prabhakar before India's tour to England in 1990. He promised to pay him money equivalent to the cost of a Maruti Gypsy, with wide tyres, after the England tour, if Prabhakar provided information about weather, pitch, team composition etc. during the tour.
Mukesh Kumar Gupta has also stated that Prabhakar under-performed at his behest in one of the Tests in England, which ended in a draw. Mukesh Kumar Gupta has further stated that he kept his promise and financed Prabhakar's Gypsy, with wide tyres, after the England tour.
Prabhakar has admitted to purchasing a Gypsy after the England tour, but denied that it was financed by Mukesh Kumar Gupta. However, MK's statement in this respect appears to be more credible in view of the specific reference to Gypsy with 'wide tyres' and also the fact that Prabhakar purchased this Gypsy after the England tour.
Mukesh Kumar Gupta further stated that Prabhakar had 'sold' him the information about the Ranji Trophy quarter final match in 1991 between Delhi-Bombay. Prabhakar in his statement has accepted that he had provided the information that Delhi would lose the match but denied having received any money from Mukesh Kumar Gupta.
It is, however, difficult to believe that Prabhakar provided this 'information' without expecting any returns. Mukesh Kumar Gupta has further stated that during the one-day series in Australia just prior to the World Cup, 1992, Prabhakar had provided specific 'information' about two one-dayers against Australia in which Mukesh Kumar Gupta made good money on the basis of Prabhakar's 'information'.
Mukesh Kumar Gupta has further talked about the England tour of India in 1993. He claims that in two one-day matches in that series at Gwalior, Prabhakar had provided 'information' which turned out incorrect. However, in the one dayer in Bangalore, his information proved correct.
As regards the word information used by MK, it is difficult to believe that in an age when television has brought cricket to our drawing rooms and expert commentators thoroughly analyse various aspects of a match like pitch, team strengths, probable results etc, such information provided by a player is of any use to a bookie.
So in this respect, it has to be construed that the world information is a euphemism for underperforming or fixing. Mukesh Kumar Gupta has referred to a number of instances when Prabhakar has introduced him to foreign players on payment of money.
Prabhakar has stated that he used to receive money only when such introduction has proved profitable to Mukesh Kumar Gupta. Mukesh Kumar Gupta has stated that the following players were introduced to him by Prabhakar:
1) Aravinda D'Silva: Mukesh Kumar Gupta has stated that Prabhakar had introduced Aravinda D'Silva to him but Prabhakar in his statement has denied it.
2) Salim Malik: Prabhakar introduced Malik during a match between Wills Cup winners of Pakistan and Wills Cup winners of India. This match took place in 1991 at Delhi. Prabhakar has accepted that he introduced Salim Malik to Mukesh Kumar Gupta.
3) Dean Jones: Jones was introduced by Prabhakar during a festival match at Sri Lanka and Prabhakar was paid a sum of Rs 2 lakhs. MukeshKumar Gupta has further stated that he and Prabhakar had come back to India on the same flight from Colombo after that tournament. Prabhakar has denied that he introduced Dean Jones, but accepted that he and Mukesh Kumar Gupta had come back to India by the same flight on one occasion.
4) Brian Lara: Prabhakar introduced him to MK and Prabhakar has accepted it.
5) Arjuna Ranatunga: Mukesh Kumar Gupta has stated that he was introduced Gupta had come to India by the same flight on one occasion from Sri Lanka.
6) Alec Stewart: Prabhakar introduced him. Accepted by Prabhakar.
7) Mark Waugh: MK was introduced to Mark Waugh by Prabhakar during a six a side tournament in Hong Kong. Prabhakar has accepted this in his statement.
8) Gus Logie: Prabhakar had run up Gus Logie from his (Prabhakar's) residence at Ghaziabad for an introduction to Mukesh Kumar Gupta but Logie refused to talk to him. Prabhakar has accepted this in his statement. Apart from Mukesh Kumar Gupta, Prabhakar was also involved with punter Tipu Kohli.
Tipu Kohli has stated that he used to get 'information' from Prabhakar about cricket matches, especially during the England tour of India in 1993 and also paid him a sum of Rs one lakh on one occasion. Prabhakar has admitted that he was very friendly with Tipu Kohli and used to provide him 'information'.
Prabhakar was also very close to another bookie Anand Saxena. Prabhakar in his statement has said that Anand Saxena often requested him to introduce cricket players, which he claims he had refused. Even recent cell phone printouts of Manoj Prabhakar show a number of calls to bookies/punters like Sanjeev Chawla, Rajesh Kalra, Sunil Dara and Rattan Mehta.
Prabhakar in his statement said that he is in touch with these persons for the purpose of investigation into match fixing. However, significantly, none of them have figured in the Tehelka Tapes.
Moreover, Rajesh Kalra has stated that Prabhakar has placed bets on cricket matches through him and Prabhakar himself has stated that he had given his 'opinion' about certain matches on occasions to Sunil Dhara. Prabhakar has also accepted that he is close to a Bombay bookie named Mashaal.
The evidence against Prabhakar discloses that, during his playing career and even after retirement, he has been very close to a number of bookies/punters. He had received money in exchange for information about cricket matches from MK and Tipu Kohli. According to MK, Prabhakar had also underperformed in some matches at his behest.
Further, Prabhakar had received money from MK to introduce foreign players to him. Prabhakar has denied having introduced Aravinda D'Silva, Arjuna Ranatunga and Dean Jones to MK. There are no reasons to disbelieve MK in this regard, as Prabhakar has accepted introducing/contacting five other foreign players for MK.
The evidence against Prabhakar discloses his nexus with a wide array of bookies/punters, which has contributed significantly to corrupting cricket in India and abroad.
It is clear that Azharuddin contributed substantially towards the expanding bookie/player nexus in Indian cricket. The enquiry has disclosed that he received large sums of money from the betting syndicates to fix matches. There is also evidence which discloses that he roped in other players also to fix matches, which resulted in this malaise making further inroads into Indian cricket.
The evidence against Azharuddin, which is discussed next, clearly establishes that he took money from bookies/punters to fix cricket matches and also the fact that the underworld had approached him to fix matches for them.
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