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India cricket chief defies pressure to quit

India's cricket chief Sunday defied calls to quit over a betting scandal in the country's top domestic competition but agreed to step aside to allow an investigation to take place, the board announced.

The move, a compromise negotiated by N. Srinivasan at an emergency meeting in the southern city of Chennai, appeared unlikely to quell the controversy which has seen the country's sports ministry call on him to resign.

Srinivasan's son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan was arrested on May 24 for allegedly taking part in illegal betting on the Indian Premier League (IPL) which is the subject of multiple police investigations.

Meiyappan is a business executive for the most successful IPL franchise, the Chennai Super Kings, which is owned by 68-year-old businessman Srinivasan who has headed the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) since 2011.

"Mr. N. Srinivasan announced that he will not discharge his duties as the president of the board till such time that the probe is completed," said a statement after the meeting.

It said Jagmohan Dalmiya, a controversial former president of the BCCI from 2001-2004, "will conduct the day-to-day affairs of the board" during Srinivasan's absence.

The BCCI met Sunday amid growing rancour among the 31-member body and a series of resignations over previous days, including the secretary, the treasurer and the chairman of the IPL, Rajeev Shukla.

Srinivasan described his decision to step aside "an extraordinarily fair step", saying the meeting was smooth and free from acrimony.

"After discussions, I announced I will not discharge my functions till the probe is completed. The decision was well received," he told NDTV station.

A top BCCI official who did not want to be named told AFP the decision was not unanimous.

"I heard Mr Srinivasan say the decision was unanimous... it was anything but unanimous and all I can say at this time is that the last has not been heard about this," he said.

The scandal in the money-spinning IPL, a Twenty20 tournament which sees top international stars play alongside domestic players, has again shaken the faith of fans in what is overwhelmingly India's most popular sport.

The arrest of Srinivasan's son-in-law came after Test paceman Shanthakumaran Sreesanth and two teammates in the IPL's Rajasthan Royals -- Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila -- were taken into custody. All the accused deny any wrongdoing.

AFP

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