Former Rajasthan Royals (RR) co-owner Raj Kundra has said he was victimized during the infamous Indian Premier League (IPL) betting and spot-fixing scandal of 2013 as he was "one of the poorest owners" of the eight-team league.
The self-proclaimed cricket enthusiast, who tied the knot with Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty in 2009, has also revealed evidence of malpractice against all eight team owners were available but that he was the "easiest prey".
Kundra, along with former Chennai Super Kings team official Gurunath Meiyappan were handed life bans from all cricket-related activities by Supreme Court-appointed Lodha committee, two years after the spot-fixing and betting scandals rocked the cash-rich cricket league.
Delhi Police, who were investigating the issue, had claimed in 2013 that the United Kingdom-based businessman conceded to betting on matches, including the ones involving the Royals.
Notably, the Lodha committee judgment had refused to accept his defense with which he claimed he was unaware of the illegal status of betting in India as he was a UK citizen.
"It was horrible. When you get blamed for something you haven't done, it brings collateral damage. I was the easiest prey as I was the poorest of the eight team owners. They had evidence against everyone else, they didn't have evidence against me," Kundra was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India.
"It was very painful. You must have seen how passionate I've been... You cannot fake those emotions. I don't want to cry over spilled milk."
Kundra wants his ban to be overturned
Meanwhile, Kundra said he has filed a petition in the Supreme Court, seeking to overturn his ban following a clean chit from Delhi Police over the betting scandal.
The businessman, who launched a multi-city based poker league in 2017, claimed he had filed an application under the Right To Information act with the Delhi Police, who in their reply said there were no evidence of betting against him.
"The answer we got against the RTI is that they have no evidence against me, and I have nothing to do with betting. The RTI is available to all of you. Even you can file an RTI and see it," Kundra said.
"I hope so [the ban is overturned]. We have submitted it and I don't know the date of a hearing. It's in the courts. We all have trust in the judicial systems. Fingers crossed.
"In our review [petition] we have asked please see what the Delhi Police has said and the basis on which I've been banned for life. Please study the new evidence, study them and tell us if I committed any crime. Then I will accept it.
"If Delhi Police is clearly saying I've done 'nothing wrong, why penalize me', why I'm being victimized."
Meanwhile, RR and CSK are set for comebacks in the upcoming 11th season of IPL, starting April 7 following the end of their two-year suspensions over the betting and the spot-fixing charges.
Former India captain MS Dhoni will be at the helm of the two-time champions, who have already begun training and an array of promotional activities.
Meanwhile, the Royals suffered a blow when their star batsman and skipper Steve Smith was banned for 12 months by Cricket Australia over the much-publicized ball-tampering row. India batsman Ajinkya Rahane has replaced the former as the captain of the team.