Match-fixing, Indian bookies in the spotlight again


The stigma of match fixing and spot fixing has raised its ugly head again following revelations by an Indian bookie about the India Pakistan semi final in the last World Cup in Mohali. In a News of the World type sting operation, he claimed to having fixed the all important match. It is beyond this columnist to cast aspersions on the way our boys played this game, but a recent article on the subject does shed some light and is self explanatory. Some excerpts:
“Twelve months after the second semi-final of the World Cup between arch rivals India and Pakistan, reports suggest that the semi-final in Mohali on March 30, 2011, could be tainted. A few dropped catches and slow batting cost Pakistan a berth in the final.
“Surprisingly, India’s Sachin Tendulkar who top scored with 85 (115 balls) was dropped 4 times, while he survived twice in off-spinner Saeed Ajmal’s one over. Tendulkar was let off for the first time, during the 11th over of the innings, as the umpire raised his finger to confirm an LBW dismissal but the master blaster went for a review. The ball had pitched in line, hit the batsman but replays showed that the ball would likely miss leg stump and was given ‘not out’.
“This raised a few eyebrows, while the spinner Ajmal unhappy with the decision and later said, he had bowled an arm-ball which would definitely go straight and hit the stumps, and wouldn’t have missed the stumps. The replays by HawkEye indicated it was an off-spinner.
“If that wasn’t enough, Sachin survived yet again, in the next ball, as it looked like the legend was stumped, after he was beaten by Ajmal’s doosra, the wicket keeper whipped off the bails while the batsman’s leg was not grounded. But replays showed that there was scope for the batsman to have got his leg down just in time and was termed not out. It was a very close call indeed.
“If two lives in a single over weren’t enough, Misbah-ul-Haq, Younis Khan, Kamran Akmal and Umar Akmal dropped catches to grant Sachin four extra lives which helped him score 85. “With six lives, Sachin managed to get that score and India posted 260/9 off 50 overs.
“While chasing the target, Pakistan lost track after the fall of Asad Shafiq (30). Later, Misbah played slowly which resulted in the outcome of the match as Pakistan lost by 29 runs to give India a opportunity to become World Champions, as India won the World Cup for the second time, and after a gap of 28 years.
“When Misbah came into bat, Pakistan were in a good position as they needed 158 runs off 159 balls while he wasted too many deliveries though he scored a half century, as his slow batting cost them the match.
“Did Pakistan deliberately drop catches and batted slowly to ensure an Indian victory? Such happenings on that day have led to match-fixing reports. The two nations have no record of playing generously as the match between these two nations are often considered to be intense and played out of revenge.”
When this game was on, one was besides oneself as to why Pakistan batted so slowly and got themselves out of a winning position. For a match of such vital import to even be a considered a fix, would be heartbreaking for cricket fans who hang on to every ball and every word spoken by the experts as if their lives depended on it. But, if the truth, as it is said, does set you free, then it is impossible to ignore these allegations and the pattern that the match was played out on.
England’s Sunday Times newspaper claimed, through a sting operation, that a “web of match-fixers are increasingly focusing their attention on the English county game and players” because, as it said, “nobody monitors them”, in addition to the Indian and Bangladesh T20 leagues and international matches. The publication also alleged that an unnamed Bollywood actress is being used as a honey trap by bookies to make players underperform, and that illegal betting rings are prepared to offer up to £750,000 to players who comply.
The newspaper’s undercover reporters claim to have video recorded a Delhi bookmaker, identified as Vicky Seth, “boasting” about his targets. “English county cricket is a good new market,” he allegedly says in the poor quality video. “They are low-profile matches and nobody monitors them. That’s why good money can be made there without any hassle if we can get the players to play for us.”
Another bookie – identified as Monubhai – alleges that he had worked with players from top cricketing nations. “I was invited to strike a deal with some New Zealanders but I didn’t go. The IPL starts on April 4, then everyone will be doing it,” he is alleged to have said.
The paper claimed that “tens of thousands of pounds are on offer to fix matches, typically £44,000 ($70,000) to batsmen for slow scoring; £50,000 ($80,000) for bowlers who concede runs; and as much as £750,000 ($1.2 million) to players or officials who can guarantee the outcome of a match”.
This is extremely serious stuff and the ICC would do well to not stuff this conveniently under the carpet. Former players have been saying these things for many years and there is no reason to completely disregard these allegations as the ICC has so conveniently done. The oft vilified DRS could well serve the purpose of keeping the umpires out of the loop. If an umpire was offered a huge amount to fix a match, he could very well do it in the absence of DRS. But when each decision is so closely monitored by Hawkeye, snickometer and hotspot and the teams have the right to challenge, it would be a brave umpire who would take the chance.


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