Sanjeev Chawla, allegedly involved in a match-fixing racket that was unearthed by the Delhi Police in 2000, has been brought to the national capital on Thursday. He was extradited from London on Wednesday.
Chawla, a British national as per Delhi Police charge sheet, absconding hitherto in the match-fixing case, was linked with several international cricketers, including Indian players, sources in the crime branch of the Delhi Police revealed.
His successful extradition harks back to one of Indian cricket’s darkest times.
It was during this period (February-March 2000) when the conspiracy to fix matches was unearthed during the India-South Africa series played in India.
Among others, South African cricketer, late Hansie Cronje was heavily involved in the scandal.
After two decades of the infamous match-fixing saga, let us go through the events which took place in 2000.
On April 7, 2000, Delhi police charged Hansie Cronje for match-fixing an ODI match between India and South Africa. Transcripts of conversation between Indian businessman Sanjeev Chawla and Protea Cronje were also released in which all the details involving the 'deal' were discussed. Cronje's team-mates Herschelle Gibbs, Pieter Strydom and Nicky Boje were also allegedly involved. However, Cronje denied any involvement in the matter.
Two days later, on April 9, during a press conference, Cronje stood his ground and said: "I want to make it 100% clear that I deny ever receiving any sum of money during the one-day international series in India. I want to also make it absolutely clear I have never spoken to any member of the team about throwing a game."
But, on April 11, Cronje called South African board's managing director Ali Bacher at 3 AM and confessed his involvement. Though he acknowledged receiving $10,000-$15,000 for providing information about the team he denied match-fixing during South Africa's ODI against India. Following his confessions, Cronje was sacked.
The following day on April 12, South African board opened an investigation into a Test match which was played earlier in January between South Africa and England. In the 5th Test between the two teams, both the sides forfeited an innings at Cronje's suggestion.
The Indian Government decided to involve itself on April 28 after asking the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to scrutinize the match-fixing allegations and if any Indian official or player was involved in the matter.
By June 7, The King Commission was playing an active role in the investigation of the match-fixing scandal. Former South African cricket Pat Symcox testified that he had been approached and asked by Cronje to 'throw' away a match against Pakistan during the 1994-95 cricketing year. He also said that Cronje had offered $250,000 for losing an ODI in 1996.
The next day, on June 8, another South African player, Herschelle Gibbs came forward to testify against Cronje and confessed to accepting $15,000 for scoring less than 20 runs in an ODI against India earlier that year.
On June 9, Boje, who was named in the scandal by Delhi Police said Cronje never approached him to play in a bad way, whereas, Strydom revealed that he had been offered money by Cronje before a Test match against India earlier in February that year.
Following the ugly revelations from the South African cricketers, on June 10, Cronje was offered immunity only if he disclosed the entire matter and his role in the scandal before the King Commission.
On June 13, South African cricketer Jacques Kallis confirmed evidence produced by Mark Boucher and Lance Klusener that Cronje made an offer to three players in March, before a match against India in Bangalore.
Two days later on June 15, Cronje finally confessed to his crimes and revealed that he took around $100,000 in bribes from gamblers since 1996. Although, he claimed that he never fixed a match. He also announced his retirement from cricket. Cronje also made a shocking revelation against former India's captain Mohammad Azharuddin saying the latter introduced him to a bookie and was asked to 'throw' away a Test match against India in 1996. The allegations were deemed as rubbish by the Indian skipper.
Cronje was cross-examined for three days by the King Commission. On 23 June, Cronje broke down and admits to accepting money from bookies. He also said his love for money came between the great passion he had for the game and his team-mates.
After the first round of hearings on June 26, Cronjie begged for forgiveness from the King Commission.
Two months later, on August 28, the United Cricket Board of South Africa (UCBSA) banned Gibbs, Henry Williams for their role in the match-fixing scandal. The ban lasted for the remainder of the year. Meanwhile, Strydom was found not guilty of betting charges on Centurion Test against England in January.
On October 11, UCBSA imposed a lifetime ban on Cronje.
Two years after the ban, on June 1, 2002, Cronje passed away in an aeroplane crash. Aged 32 at the time of death, he was travelling in a cargo plane when it crashed into mountains due to bad weather. It was later revealed that the crash happened due to pilot negligence.
On November 3, 2004, Boje did not involve himself in a Test series against India after he was told that Indian police might detain the cricketer over match-fixing investigations.
On October 12, 2006, Delhi police questioned Gibbs about the match-fixing scandal in 2000 during South Africa's tour of India. Former South African bowler, Derek Crookes was named by Gibbs for being allegedly involved in the matter. But Crookes denied the allegations as he was cleared by the King Commission.
The following day, on October 13, Crookes was cleared by the Delhi Police.
Boje once again found himself in the crosshairs of Delhi Police on December 11 when he was questioned for his role in match-fixing which he denied.
On March 17, 2008, Cronje's involvement in the match-fixing scandal cost him his place in South Africa's Sports Hall of Fame.
On July 13, 2013, Delhi Police filed a charge sheet about the match-fixing scandal of 2000. Among the names of many bookies, Cronje was the only cricketer to be included in the list.