Fake cricket league busted in India

Indian police have shut down a fake cricket league that had garnered interest from Russian gamblers.

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The scheme, which began a few weeks after the latest season of the hugely popular Indian Premier League, took place in a rural part of the western Indian state of Gujarat.

The matches were streamed on YouTube, but the narrow camera angle did not show the wider backdrop, while digital crowd noise was piped into the footage, along with running commentary.

Police say the organisers of the fake tournament accepted bets through the social media app Telegram, from punters from three cities in Russia. They bet on results that were fixed, with players - who were largely unemployed, youths, and farmers - following instructions from umpires who were under the control of bookies.

The league featured six teams named after different Indian states, with over 20 locals paid to play, along with umpires and organisers. One organiser also played the role of a commentator, and mimicked a well-known Indian cricket pundit.

As reported by BBC, police in Mehsana district in Gujarat acted on a tip-off and arrested four men in connection with the tournament, which was called Century Hitters T20. It was busted after more than nine matches were played in a remote location in Molipur village.

Police seized cricket kits, cameras, and speakers. Most of the punters were based in Moscow, Voronezh and Tver.

“Organisers live-stream these fixed games, where the umpires openly give instructions to players,” said Joy Bhattacharjya, a sports Producer and a former Director of an IPL team. “They are completely staged.”

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