RCB drummer arrested for betting, illegal approach in Karnataka league

Bhavesh allegedly dangled the carrot of an IPL contract to induce a player to underperform.

A celebrity drummer associated with franchise cricket events, including the Indian Premier League, has been arrested by the Bangalore Central Crime Branch (CCB) in an investigation into betting and illegal approach of a player in the 2019 Karnataka Premier League.

Bhavesh Bafna, 26, a drummer who has entertained crowds in the IPL on behalf of Royal Challengers Bangalore as well as in the Tamil Nadu Premier League and the KPL, was arrested by CCB police on Wednesday for acting as a conduit for bookies in Delhi and Mumbai and on specific charges of enticing a player in the KPL to give away more than 10 runs in an over. He allegedly dangled the carrot of an IPL contract to induce a player to underperform.

Read | Karnataka Premier League team owner Ali Asfak Thara arrested for betting

Bafna’s arrest comes on the heels of that of the owner of KPL team Belagavi Panthers Asfak Ali Thara by CCB police on charges of involvement in an illegal betting racket that was operating during the KPL season in August.

However, police are yet to detain a Delhi bookie identified as Sanyam, on whose behalf Bafna allegedly approached a player in the KPL, a senior crime branch official said.

In a major breakthrough in the ongoing investigation in the KPL match fixing scandal, an FIR has been registered against two bookies Bhavesh Bafna and Sanyam for trying to fix matches. They approached a Bellary Tuskers bowler to give more than 10 runs per over but the bowler refused, joint commissioner of police (crime) Sandeep Patil said.

Police have booked Bafna, based in Bangalore, and Sanyam on the basis of a complaint filed by Bhavesh Gulecha, 26, a fast bowler for the Bellary Tuskers who alleged that he was approached by his childhood friend Bafna to give away more that 10 runs an over in a match.

According to the Gulecha’s version, he was offered the prospect of an IPL contract and Rs two lakh as advance if he met bookie Sanyam and agreed to a fixing deal. The cricketer, who played for the Bijapur Bulls in previous seasons, said he turned down the offer.

The information regarding the role of entertainer’ Bafna in the KPL betting racket was obtained by the police during the course of a probe into the role of Belagavi Panthers owner Thara, police sources said. Thara, a travel and tours businessman who bought the Belagavi Panthers franchise in 2017, was arrested by the CCB last week after several days of interrogation. Along with Thara, several others involved with KPL including players and coaching staff of more than one team were also questioned.

Police added that they have not found any evidence as yet to suggest that KPL 2019 matches were fixed. Several players, coaching staff and persons linked with the teams in the league have been questioned in recent weeks about the betting racket. In fact, as many as 12 players in KPL are suspected to have been in touch with Thara for betting as per the investigation, police sources said.

The probe into betting and match-fixing in KPL was opened up by the CCB on the basis of inputs provided by the BCCI Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) soon after allegations of betting and match-fixing in the Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL). Thara, who has business interests in Dubai, had revived the fortunes of the Belagavi Panthers after buying the team. The franchise, which now has India international Manish Pandey as its most high-profile player, won the league in 2017.