NEW DELHI (TIP): The raging spot-fixing saga in the IPL turned murkier with controversial Pakistani umpire Asad Rauf being withdrawn by the ICC from next month’s Champions Trophy in UK for his alleged role in the scandal which is growing bigger by the day. A week after the sensational arrest of India paceman S Sreesanth and two of his Rajasthan Royals team-mates on charges of spot-fixing, Rauf’s pull-out from the June 6-23 Champions Trophy added a new twist to the fast unfolding drama.

The ICC said in a statement that Rauf has been withdrawn as he was under investigation by the Mumbai Police, thus becoming the first umpire to come under the scanner in the IPL spot-fixing scandal. “The decision has been made after media reports indicated that the umpire was under investigation by Mumbai Police,” the ICC release said.

Explaining the decision, ICC Chief Executive David Richardson said: “In the wake of reports that the Mumbai Police are conducting an investigation into Asad Rauf’s activities, we feel that it is in Asad’s best interests as well as those of the sport and the event itself, that he is withdrawn from participating in the ICC Champions Trophy.” Rauf has had a history of controversies and only last year a small-time model named Leena Kapoor had accused him of sexually exploiting her for months before refusing to marry her.

As per the duty schedule of the on-field umpires, Rauf was supposed to officiate in a warm-up match between Australia and West Indies in Cardiff on June 1. In the tournament group league stage, he was supposed to officiate in two matches in Cardiff. The first on June 9 was between Sri Lanka and New Zealand while other was between West Indies and South Africa. In the ongoing IPL, Rauf had on-field umpiring duty in 13 matches, the last one being in the game between Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kolkata Knight Riders in Hyderabad on May 19.

The three Rajasthan Royals players — Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan — are in police custody while actor Vindu Randhawa, son of the late Dara Singh, has also been arrested by the Mumbai Police in connection with the case along with several other bookies, many of whom have underworld connection. But the BCCI threw its weight behind Srinivasan, saying that it was unfair to implicate his son-in-law of any wrong doing until the investigations are over.

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