Every time there is an India-Pakistan clash on cricket field, the suspicion of betting or even chances of spot-fixing do come and haunt world cricket. A lot has been written about how big is the money involved during any such game, but neither the cricket regulating bodies like International Cricket Council (ICC) nor the agencies responsible to curb this menace have taken serious steps to put an end to such practices.

Interestingly, this World Cup has been witnessing bizarre ways (baits) to attract more punters into the net. Going by a bookie in the Delhi market, a simple tweet by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan cost a whopping Rs 100 crore alone in the capital’s satta market.

“In order to have a winning offensive strategy, Sarfaraz must go in with specialist batsmen and bowlers because ‘Raillu Kattas’ (part time bowler-batsmen) rarely perform under pressure, especially the intense kind that will be generated today,” was what tweeted by Pakistan’s 1992 World Cup winning captain.

“His tweet came just before the toss and we witnessed almost all punters putting money on ‘Pak batting first’, if at all they win toss. No bookie at that time actually thought that it was a result of Imran’s tweet because we were busy in taking bets,” the bookie told this correspondent.

One has to understand that almost 80 per cent of the bets now-a-days are spot bets. “It’s only less than 20 per cent bets which are on outcome of match or on how a particular player will perform on that particular day. Majority of bets are placed on ‘toss, team combination’, who will bowl next over, whether there will be a no-ball or wide in next over, if next ball will be hit outside boundary or for a six etc.,” added this veteran bookie.

In nutshell, the moment Imran tweeted (suggested) Pakistan skipper to bat first and not take chances of chasing against a formidable Indian attack, there was a flurry of bets backing his call within the next five minutes (or even less time left for the toss). “It was a happy hunting day for us as Pak skipper asked India to bat first. And all thanks to our neighbouring PM,” came the laugh.

Indian bookies also booked huge profits in the game against Afghanistan. The market (satta) was abuzz with India scoring big a victory over the minnows in Southampton. “If batting first, Team India would score 350-plus and if chasing (a low total projected of Afghans), there would be enough wickets and overs left for Virat Kohli & Co. The punters (who are putting bets/money) had once again had a bad day, courtesy great fight shown by the first-timers,” said another bookie in Delhi, who also happens to run a book at capital’s racecourse.

There is no need to explain the reason or the excitement in the bookie community as India managed to beat a bottom-placed team in a nail-biting finish (11 runs).

After talking to many bookies around the National Capital Region (NCR), the experiments done during the Indian Premier League (IPL) have helped bookies find new ways of luring the punters. “We are accepting or offering bets now on even field settings. Even bets like whether the captain himself will go out of the 30-yard circle to field during that particular over, or he will go out of field by handing over captaincy to his deputy are placed,” revealed this bookie, suggesting that odds offered on such vague bets are higher than the regular bets.

“The bets sometimes are offered to the tune of 1:20 or even as high as 1:36 in crunch situations. IPL has taught us to reinvent our styles and strategies for our new customers, who to a large extent are women,” another shocker came this time. When asked if women punters are also betting big, the reply came: “Not big, but about 10 to 15 per cent share of bets are now coming from housewives, wanting to make a quick buck sitting in their sofas.”

Despite the boom-time during WC, the bookies in NCR are not looking assured about the future. One big reason for this is that police and other security agencies are keeping a tab on them and neglecting the fast-growing mobile applications.

“I know so many bookies in Delhi who have shut shop for the fear of police raids,” said a former bookie forced to shut his shop at racecourse during IPL spot-fixing raids.

“These apps and sites allow punters to bet money online and get the money back online. So, the bookies are not needed any more. And some of these apps bring run in the name of mobile gaming and are promoted by big players (names concealed),” added the former bookie.

“You win or lose, money is directly debited or credited into the account’s app wallets which can be redeemed later. It’s as easy as playing a game on your phone. Download app, open an account with one or more online bookmakers and start placing bets with friends whom you’ve come to know through sites only,” explained the bookie how these mobile applications and websites have less chance of being caught by police.

The ICC’s Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) has so many times admitted that India is a massive hub for bookies and has suggested that legalisation of it would help check the menace to a large extent.

Last but not the least, huge bets have already started pouring in for the crucial Sunday game between India and England. And don’t ask on what?

Stay alive and sing along!


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