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    BCCI begins probe into IPL sting with Shalabh

    New Delhi: Acting swiftly, the BCCI began the probe into the spot-fixing scandal that has rocked IPL with one of the suspended domestic players deposing before the inquiry commission on Wednesday, even as Sports Minister Ajay Maken called for a "long-term solution" to deal with the menace.

    Barely a day after the BCCI cracked the whip by suspending five tainted players in the wake of the television sting operation which claimed to have exposed corruption in the IPL, Ravi Sawani, who is heading the inquiry commission, met Shalabh Srivastava to hear his side of the story on the sting operation. The meeting, which took place at a five-star hotel in New Delhi, lasted for about an hour. There was, however, no official word from the BCCI on the development.

    Sawani, a former chief of the ICC's Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU), has been asked to submit his report to the BCCI's Discplinary Committee within 15 days. Sawani is now the chief of the BCCI's Anti-Corruption Unit. Sawani will meet the other four suspended players in the coming days before finalising his report, a top BCCI source said.

    Even as the BCCI began its investigations, Sports Minister Ajay Maken sought a proper probe into the spot-fixing allegation and suggested that the BCCI should de-link itself from running the Twenty20 league to avoid "overlapping of interests". "As I have said, the BCCI should go into the root cause of the problem. They have to handle the investigation because BCCI is recognised by the ICC to run cricket in India. It is their mandate and their duty. They are foremost responsible," Maken said. "Suspending five players is not enough. BCCI must come up with a long-term solution for this problem."

    Maken suggested that the BCCI should keep an arm's distance from the IPL, citing the examples of English Premier League, where the clubs run the tournament instead of the national football body. "IPL should be at a arm's distance from BCCI. It should not be under BCCI. IPL and BCCI should be away from each other so that there is no overlapping of interests," he said.

    Maken said the BCCI should also open up its accounts to RTI to bring about much-needed credibility. "They should not submit their accounts to us but they should open their accounts to RTIs. This will bring much-needed credibility to the BCCI," Maken said.

    Apart from Srivastava, the BCCI had suspended Mohnish Mishra, TP Sudhindra, Amit Yadav and Abhinav Bali with immediate effect pending inquiry on Tuesday. The decision was taken after a lengthy tele-conference of top BCCI officials and members of the IPL Governing Council. The Indian cricket board swung into action a day after the expose as the issue rocked Parliament, and former players and cricket administrators called for strong action to rid the game of even a whiff of a scandal.

    Television channel India TV had on Monday claimed to have blown the lid off "murky deals" in the IPL among players, organisers, owners and big guns of Indian cricket. The TV sting operation, which was aired at prime time on Monday, created a flutter in the Indian cricket establishment, prompting the BCCI to react quickly. The channel had claimed it had done a sting operation in which many players confessed on hidden camera they get much more than their prescribed auction money under the table.

    Srivastava is a left-arm seamer from Uttar Pradesh and was India's highest wicket-taker at the Under-19 World Cup in Sri Lanka in 2000. After severing ties with ICL team Delhi Giants, Srivastava was signed up by Kings XI Punjab in 2011.

    Four of the five players suspended had played in the rebel Indian Cricket League.

    In the aftermath of the sting operation, it is learnt that at least three franchises during their meeting with the BCCI top brass have requested them to either have an 'open auction' or a separate auction exclusively for uncapped domestic players in order to avoid any confusion. "The brand gets affected by these allegations and the best way to do it is by having either open auctions or an exclusive auction for uncapped domestic players. We have already intimated our feelings to the IPL Governing council in this regard. They have assured us that the matter would be seriously considered," an IPL team official said.

    Till now, according to BCCI salary cap, the maximum an uncapped domestic player can earn is Rs 30 lakh, considering he has five years experience in first-class cricket.

    Meanwhile, Kings XI Punjab said they will take strict action against any of their players found guilty of indulging in spot-fixing. "Kings XI Punjab believe in fair play and commitment towards the game. We have complete faith in the IPL governing body and [the] BCCI and we abide by their decision," the Kings XI management said in a statement. "Detailed interrogation will take place by the concerned authorities and if any player is found guilty, proper action as warranted will be taken against the individual."

    Both Shalabh and Amit are signed up with Kings XI Punjab, but have not played a single match for the franchise this season.