Three Indian cricketers have been arrested over allegations of spot-fixing in the Indian Premier League (IPL), the country’s cricket board says.
The players belong to the Rajasthan Royals team and have been identified as S Sreesanth, Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila by the team boss, Raghu Iyer.
The team said it had “a zero-tolerance approach to anything that is against the spirit of the game”.
Meanwhile, the cricket board has suspended the three players.
There has been no word from the cricketers themselves, but S Sreesanth’s family said he was innocent.
“I have full faith in him, he would never do anything like this,” said his mother Savitri Devi.
Spot-fixing involves illegally rigging parts of a match, for example by timing the delivery of a deliberate wide or no-ball, to benefit bookmakers or those betting on matches.
Rajasthan Royals are captained by legendary Indian batsman Rahul Dravid and owned by Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty and her businessman husband Raj Kundra.
Fast bowler S Sreesanth has represented India in many international games. He has played 27 Tests and 53 one-day internationals.
Media reports said the players were taken from Mumbai for questioning late on Wednesday.
They are expected to appear in court in Delhi on Thursday.
“We have no information other than that the three players have been arrested. We don’t know the details of the charges against them. We are waiting to get further information from the police,” president of the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) N Srinivasan told a press conference on Thursday afternoon.
Earlier in the day, the BCCI suspended the three players saying it was “shocked and saddened” at the development.
“The IPL governing council has met and decided that the cricketers found involved will be dealt with severely,” the board said in a statement.
“As of now, the three players – Ankeet Chavan, Ajit Chandila and S Sreesanth – stand suspended pending enquiry. All information required to bring the persons involved to book will be collected and strictest action will be taken, if found guilty,” it added.
The team owners Rajasthan Royals also issued a statement saying they had “been informed that three of our players have been called in for investigation on spot-fixing in matches. We are completely taken by surprise.
“We do not have the full facts at this point and are unable to confirm anything. We are in touch with the BCCI [Board for Control of Cricket in India] on this matter. We will fully co-operate with the authorities to ensure a thorough investigation.”
Some media reports, quoting police sources, said at least seven bookmakers had also been arrested.
The sixth season of the IPL, which is considered to be the world’s showcase for Twenty20 cricket, is currently under way in India.
Top Indian and international players take part, contributing to what is the world’s richest cricket tournament.
The scandal is the latest to affect cricket.
Last year, Indian cricket officials suspended five players after a sting by undercover TV reporters purported to show cricketers agreeing to bowl no-balls and spot-fix matches.
And in 2011, three top Pakistani players – Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir – were banned after they were found guilty of involvement in a betting scam.