The Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) of the Nepal Police has the investigation ended of the point fixing scandal that plagued the just concluded Nepal T20 League naming Jatin Ahluwalia, the co-founder of seven3sports and business and strategic partner of Nepal T20 League as the mastermind.
As the report has been submitted to government lawyers, a Nepali court will hear a point settlement case for the first time in its history.
The Nepal T20 League was the Nepal Cricket Association The first official tournament of the franchise that was held in Kathmandu from December 24, 2022 to January 11. While the league was ongoing, news of a points fix surfaced, after which the cricketer Adil Ansari and former cricketer Mehboob Alam they were arrested. One more person was arrested for approaching a national team player.
According to a researcher, the point fix made by Alam is just the tip of the iceberg as Jatin Ahluwalia’s role in the league is a curious case from which to learn lessons in the future.
The strategy of the strategic partner
Seven3Sports became involved in the Nepal T20 League after signing the initial deal with CAN in January 2021. It was appointed as a strategic and business partner for a decade for Rs 420 crore. This was not well received by some CAN members, after which the term was revised. Seven3Sports then became a business and strategic partner for eight years for Rs 330 crore.
In this modification, the CAN added conditions regarding the amount to be paid by Seven3Sports and the players by the teams.
By then, Jatin Ahluwalia had gained the trust of most CAN members. Therefore, although he did not comply with any of the revised conditions, the CAN did not take any action against him.
Instead, he tried to use it to his advantage. He Nepal Cricket Team Delhi Tour is proof of this. Before going to Namibia to participate in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup League 2, the Nepalese team went to Delhi to play two practice matches.
On the day the team arrived in Delhi, Jatin Ahluwalia and Abhishek Saklani, the CEO of Seven3Sports, took them for dinner at a restaurant. According to a member of the Nepal team, Seven3Sports representatives tried to get close to some cricketers during the tour.
There are claims Seven3Sports, aware of the strengths and weaknesses of many Nepalese cricketers, tried to take advantage of their situation. A national team player says he tried to lure some players with promises of iPhones and cricket kits. The players were even held at the Seven3Sports offices in Gurgaon for photo and video sessions.
CAN Acting Secretary Durga Raj Pathak confirms that Seven3Sports representatives met the national team players during their visit to Delhi. He says the visit was meant to connect the Nepali players with the owners of the franchise teams. This is strange as the team owners should have done this separately. And it was not the best time to meet the players as the team was there to prepare for a major series and not for the Nepal T20 League.
Choose your captains wisely
If so, why did Jatin Ahluwalia and his company representatives meet with the players? To know the answer, you have to look for the connection between Ahluwalia and the owners of the franchise team.
CAN and Seven3Sports announced six franchise teams for the Nepal T20 League in July 2022. The teams were Biratnagar Super Kings, Janakpur Royals, Kantipur Gurkhas, Pokhara Avengers, Lumbini All Stars and Farwest United.
Of them, only Lumbini All Stars and Pokhara Avengers were owned by Nepalis. The remaining equipment was owned by people Jatin Ahluwalia knew and was close to.
The choice of captains was also criticized from the start, as police believe the teams chose the captains to ensure that the points arrangement occurred in a subtle manner. It came as a surprise to many when the Nepalese players were passed over and the international players were made captains.
Another interesting thing happened before the tournament. As the league was embroiled in controversy, Kantipur Media Group, owner of the Kathmandu Gurkhas, retired from the tournament. The team was then renamed the Kathmandu Knights, which was co-owned by Nabin Kandel. Although Kandel was the co-owner, Jatin Ahluwalia’s confidant, Bikas Dhyani, was appointed as CFO.
The Kathmandu team was built under the ownership of the KMG. This meant that the team formation and captain could not be changed at the last minute. However, police investigation indicates that Dhyani, who was the CFO of Kathmandu, was contacted to fix up the place. An international player he approached informed his captain Gyanendra Malla, who then reported the offer to anti-corruption unit (ACU) head Vir Singh.
According to investigators, Biratnagar manager Rahul Sharma and his captain, West Indian Andre McCarthy, were involved in the points-fixing. The Janakpur and Farwest players were approached by their managers to fix them but they refused and immediately informed the ACU boss.
The police report states that Jatin Ahluwalia and his team asked the players to fix the matches and promised them that he would help them reach the goal. Indian Premier League and other higher leagues. According to a CIB official, they (Seven3Sports and some franchise teams) came to Nepal with a plan to earn money through betting and point fixing.
the gambling game
Seven3Sports, which spent huge sums of money to become a business and strategic partner in the Nepal T20 League, had no official sponsor. One day before the tournament, 1XBat was announced as the title sponsor. Interestingly, 1XBat, which is said to be a sports equipment manufacturing company, has not started production yet.
Police believe Seven3Sports was trying to make money through live betting and point fixing. Because? In India, Seven3Sports is registered as a betting company. They say that Jatin Ahluwalia had already patched things up with some team owners and captains so that he could bet millions and get a bigger return.
Take the match between Biratnagar Super Kings and Janakpur Royals on December 31, 2022, as an example.
Chasing 190 to win, Biratnagar was expected to play big shots early on. Linden Fraser, the Biratnagar manager, had the same planned and wanted Pradeep Airee and Gauranshu Sharma to open the innings and play attacking shots early on. But team manager Rahul Sharma intervened, telling Fraser to send captain McCarthy in his place. Despite being a former international cricketer and chasing 190, his batting was very defensive as Biratnagar only scored 29 runs on the power play. Biratnagar lost the match by 49 runs and his manager he vented his frustrations about how the starters played unnaturally during the power play.
During the CIB investigation it was confirmed that less than 30 runs had to be scored on the power play and McCarthy made sure it happened.
According to an official, when the CIB started investigating after receiving complaints about the points fix, Seven3Sports owner Jatin Ahluwalia along with CEO Saklani, Biratnagar manager Sharma and Kathmandu CFO , Dhyani, had fled to India.
“If they could have been arrested, a lot would have been revealed,” says an investigator. “But, our investigation confirms that a point fix occurred. But how much money was traded? We do not know it yet”.