FORMER Australian and T20 star batsman David Hussey remembers the uneasy feeling like it was yesterday.
Sitting with his pads on waiting to bat during an Indian Premier League game on May 9, 2013, Hussey looked around the field and was confused by the opposition’s tactics. He suspected something was wrong.
And allegedly, it was.
Batting were two fellow Aussies — Shaun Marsh and Adam Gilchrist — while the opposition had Shane Watson, Brad Hodge and James Faulkner. There are no suggestions whatsoever that any of these Australians were involved in any wrongdoing.
The fixture was Hussey’s Kings XI Punjab v Watson’s Rajasthan Royals, one of three Royals matches identified by Delhi police for alleged spot-fixing.
Temperamental fast bowler Shanthakumaran Sreesanth and off-spinner Ajit Chandila both turned out for the Royals — and were later arrested, charged, deemed guilty by the BCCI of spot-fixing and handed life bans, despite being acquitted in court.
Sreesanth and Chandila opened the bowling for the Royals.
“I played in a game where Sreesanth and I forget the off-spinner’s name [Chandila] from the Rajasthan Royals actually got convicted and went to prison after that,” Hussey recalled in an interview with SEN on Friday.
“Adam Gilchrist couldn’t buy a run in the IPL and was going out to bat swinging and trying to get the Kings XI Punjab franchise off to a good start.
“Gilchrist couldn’t make a run and Sreesanth was setting all these fields for full balls like a long off, long on and deep cover sort of thing. Gilchrist doesn’t hit to those areas and then he would bowl a bouncer and Gilchrist would hit it out of the stadium. Sreesanth would go for 15, 16 or 17 runs off the over.
“You’d think, ‘Is that wrong? Or is that [just] bad bowling?’ sort of thing.
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“The off-spinner [Chandila] was turning them square to Shaun Marsh. I think he bowled his first three overs for eight runs. In his fourth over, he changed the field and Shaun put him into the stands a couple of times and the over went for 18 runs. You think, ‘Something is not right there.’
“Then later on that year, these two players got convicted in the IPL for spot-fixing, I guess, and their cricket careers are ruined.”
Hussey was a touch off with his numbers but his recollection of the pattern of the match was spot on.
Chandila bowled his first three overs for just 10 runs, before leaking 14 runs from his fourth over.
Interestingly, after Marsh had hit the off-spinner for a six off his second ball of his final over and a boundary off the following delivery, Sreesanth misfielded at backward point to allow the Western Australia another three runs.
The live commentary on Cricinfo read as follows:
“Chandila to Marsh, 3 runs, poor effort in the field by Sreesanth, it was a shorter one and cut, Sreesanth at the backward point dives it an hour before he should have, it sneaks through.”
Likewise, on the final ball of Sreesanth’s second over he was bowling to Gilchrist, who was keeper and captain of Kings XI Punjab.
Gilchrist had already belted the right-armer for two boundaries in the over and did so again on the sixth delivery thanks to a misfield from the bowler.
Sreesanth pulled his hand away after the ball was hit back at him, according to Cricinfo’s live commentary.
“Sreesanth to Gilchrist, FOUR, blasted back to the fence but it’s not timed too well and still goes to the fence, fuller in length but it came slower than what Gilly expected, he had gone through with the shot and hits the toe end of the bat, Sreesanth pulls his hand out of the way and it rolls down to the fence.”
Along with left-arm orthodox spinner Ankett Chavan (who did not play in this specific game but still represented the Royals in that tournament), Sreesanth and Chandila were both jailed and then released on bail.
All three players were arrested on suspicion of taking money to concede a minimum number of runs. Criminal charges were dismissed but the cricket bans handed down by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) remained despite continued denials from the players.
The Rajasthan Royals were later banned but will return for the upcoming IPL after serving a two-year suspension. Along with the Chennai Super Kings, the two franchises were found guilty in an illegal betting and match-fixing probe.
Chandila and Sreesanth have not played professional cricket since that day, while Chavan last played for the Royals on May 15, taking 0-25 off three overs.
The Royals won by eight wickets with six balls to spare, despite Gilchrist belting 42 off 32 balls and Marsh hitting 77 off 64 deliveries. Hussey was bowled by Watson for 1.