MS Dhoni has opened up about the spot-fixing scandal that rocked the Indian Premier League and said that anybody could be involved in it – batsmen, bowlers and even the umpires. Dhoni made this revelation and said a lot more about the saga which led to the ban of Chennai Super Kings for two years in a documentary titled Roar of the Lion.
Dhoni's team Chennai Super Kings had reached the final of the 2013 edition of the IPL when news broke that Gurunath Meiyappan was arrested by Mumbai Police on charges of betting, conspiracy and cheating. Meiyappan is the son in law of the then BCCI president N Srinivasan and was also believed to be the Team Principal of CSK. This sent shock waves throughout the entire country as it threw up a potential situation of more players from the franchise being involved in fixing.
"I think that 2013 was the darkest phase of cricketing career. The last time I was that depressed was when we had been knocked out of the 50-over World Cup in 2007. But 2013 was different. In 2007, despite whatever was said and done, we did not play good cricket. But in 2013, the angle was completely different – we are talking about match-fixing and spot-fixing. It was the most important thing in India that was going on," Dhoni opened up about his personal struggle to come to grips with the situation.
"Initially when Guru's [Meiyappan] name came up whatever said and done, he was a part of the team. In what capacity, that is debatable. Was he the owner or the team principal or was he a team motivator? What exactly was his role, we don't know. I don't think anybody from the franchisee's side introduced Guru [Meiyappan] to the team as, you know, he's the owner. We all knew him as the son in law," Dhoni said about Meiyappan's connection with CSK.
Back in 2013, India Cements, who owned the CSK franchise, were quick in clarifying that Meiyappan was only an honorary member and did not hold any official position in the club. But the scandal had become so large that even Dhoni's name was dragged in the mud following the Mudgal Committee's report stating that a few bookies mentioned the then India skipper.
"My name also came up. They dragged me into match-fixing. They started showcasing in the media and the social media as if the team was involved, you know, personally I was involved. Is it possible? Yes it is possible. Anybody can do spot-fixing – the umpires can do it and so can the bowlers and batsmen."
CSK would go on to lose the final to Mumbai Indians in a low-scoring encounter and it was evident that the entire fiasco had adversely affected the players.
"There was, at that time so much media blitz, literally. It was as if India had to gone to war with some country and we had lost that war. I was in Kodaikanal then. Every year in May, I go there to play golf. I was in Kodaikanal when all this came up," N Srinivasan said in the documentary.
"It was difficult to believe as to how it could happen. Everybody in our team worked systematically and was positive," said all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja. His teammate Suresh Raina was also very disappointed at the revelations. "As players, we were obviously disappointed. We were in Calcutta for the final match. It was a shocking revelation," said CSK's Chinna Thala.
CSK was banned from the IPL for two years in 2015 but made a fairytale comeback in 2018 by lifting the IPL crown for the third time in their history. The yellow brigade will kick-off IPL 2019 on March 23 when they take on Royal Challengers Bangalore at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai.