Saturday, November 30, 2013

Mirror to Media

The Providence has once again shown mirror to the media through the recent case of sexual assault by Tarun Tejpal on another journalist half his age and working under him. It goes to show that those controlling media are as humane and as corruptible as those, writing and yelling against whom they fill their columns and air time all the while. Nira Radia tapes occurred not very long ago. Top journalists were implicated for big corruption. Media downplayed, rather censored the greater crime that time, but the media clamour against Tarun Tejpal this time has been too loud. The journalists implicated in Radia tapes continue to call the shots as they did earlier. Clearly media barons have their own pick and choose.

It is not only a matter of pick and choose, but also involves sense of proportion. The sense of proportion of Indian media appears to be no different from that of us Indians. There are country wide protests for days and months demanding heads of those having committed crime on particular individuals. There may not be much wrong in that per se. But same public sees nothing wrong in those responsible for multi thousand crore scams ~ crimes that harm and adversely affect crores of human beings at the same time ~ not only continuing as Ministers, Chief Ministers, and Prime Ministers, but being reelected time and again.

Media has a great responsibility in a democracy as we are. More often than not it shuns that and misuses its place. Only a couple of days ago, Kunal Ghosh, the MP alleged that some media channels were meant to be used for propaganda for promoting Mamata Banerjee as the potential Prime Minister. This allegation, in effect, underlines the main role media has come to play. To carry propaganda to further the interests of some or to condemn some others, everything motivated. People, even well aware about this role of media, get swayed by the propaganda by the print and electronic media through their sub conscious minds.

Media is an institution that enjoys total or sufficient freedom. It doesn’t have any excuse for not delivering what is expected of it. What is expected of it is unbiased reporting of socially, politically, and economically relevant events and happenings, an objective analysis of same, and dissemination of truth. All its actions are expected to be in the interest of public at large and not to serve the interests of particular persons, groups, or institutions.  We find media doing so only in patches, generally disserving the people it is meant to serve as its actions are mostly opposite to what the same should be.

Media sins through acts of commission as well as omission. While its palpable acts of commission could be visible to the people, its sins of omission often remain unknown to the public. That is when it stonewalls truth to continue with the falsehood that serves its interests.

I explain the above with a very telling example. The fact that international cricket going around us for last many years has been nothing but continuous staged drama lies established beyond any iota of doubt through the reports published in media itself from time to time. Of late it has become so crystal clear that if there were beings like us on Mars, they would have been laughing on us for having been supporting such cricket and treating it as competitive cricket.

But what do media do? It doesn’t analyse its own reports to tell us the truth, but goes on with daily written columns, more than on any other subject, and hours of air time to promote fake cricket as the real cricket. Knowingly or unknowingly, the whole of media, without any exception, facilitates one of the greatest day light international frauds day after day.

What constitutes daily media headlines? How one top leader called another top leader names, and how the rebuttal was made. It makes me wonder who is the greater culprit for this non-sense I must bear day after day of my limited existence. My leaders or the media? If media were to air the altercations between me and my neighbour, probably we would also feel tempted to indulge more and more in those.

It doesn’t mean that no sense ever comes out through media. The tragedy has been that sense is hardly ever pursued to a logical conclusion, while the non-sense or non-issues continue to take the center stage. It is through media only that I become wise to the failings of media.

The undoing of the Indian media has been that slowly but surely it has allowed itself to be an institution of power-broking. Whether it has happened so sub-consciously or deliberately should be a matter of introspection for the media. But through its sins media has accelerated the social degradation the most. It has been one of the four pillars of democracy that has helped in crumbling of the edifice the most.

There are checks on media also in place. Their effectiveness may be a matter of debate. But one thing is clear. There could be checks on acts of commission by the media but there are no checks, probably can’t be any, on its acts of omission. It is something like one could be hanged for committing a murder, but one couldn’t be asked any question by law if one passed by a dying man without attending to him. And it is through its acts of omission that the media sins the most.

Big scams and cases of leakage of big time public money are reported by the media. But soon media conveniently forgets everything. Neither does it properly analyse to arrive at the root causes, nor does it call for or pursues for the needed systemic corrections. Rather it turns a blind eye even if one eggs it on to take the issues forward and bring out the truth.

The undoing of Tarun Tejpal has once again forced the media to face the mirror. There are many ugly patches on its face. It is unto it whether it goes for some cosmetics to cover these patches while allowing underneath undesirable growth to continue, or chooses to go for surgery to get rid of the malicious roots for good.  

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Bharat Ratna to Sachin

Sachin Tendulkar has, no doubt, been an exceptionally talented cricketer. Arguably more talented than any other cricketer of his times. I have also grown up enjoying his cricket as my compatriots. Probably not many would, and not many should, grudge awarding of Bharat Ratna to him for the sheer quality of cricket displayed by him over the years. But there is another very relevant, though not so conspicuous, aspect to the whole issue.

Sachin Tendulkar has also been a key player of Mumbai Indians in IPL-6, a tournament that has been under cloud for fixing. It is a clear and necessary implication of the findings from the investigations carried out by the Delhi Police in the IPL-6 scandal, as reported in media, that all or almost all the players participating in IPL-6 had to be involved in total fixing that existed in IPL-6, even though the police themselves and the media have conveniently overlooked this implication so far. Only utter fools can think that the matches involving Mumbai Indians could be fixed without any involvement or knowledge of Sachin Tendulkar, a key player. And the police have categorically stated that the fixing in IPL-6 was done at the behest of none other than Dawood Ibrahim.

Not long ago, an article ‘Cricket in Massive Fix?’ was published in the esteemed columns of  The Statesman. Quoting me, this article had shown how mathematical evidence existed of total continuous fixing in international cricket implicating all the players. Sachin Tendulkar was no exception. No one till date has even challenged that assertion.

The above would mean that at the least, there is a very real cloud over Tendulkar having been playing his cricket honestly. Awarding of Bharat Ratna to him means one having helping Dawood Ibrahim actively or passively in fixing of cricket matches for earning loads of money for probable use of same in terror strikes in India getting the highest civilian honour of the country.

Sexual assault by Tarun Tejpal

The recent incident of sexual assault by Tarun Tejpal brings alive the following words of my father, “It seems the Darwinian law of struggle for existence and survival of the fittest is the ultimate and final one and compassion, pity, recognition of the rights of others are concepts that are merely tolerated as a symbol of our advancement towards civilisation. …..How glibly do we pass from professing high moral ideals to the mundane task of doing all we can to protect and promote our self-interest?”

How quickly has Mr Tejpal changed his high moral instance of self-inflicted atonement for an error of judgement to alleging that the incident was a consensual one, when faced with the criminal case against him? Just like the other mortals exposing whom he had been taking pleasure all his life. The high moral ground taken by Aam Aadmi Party also lies shattered. There is a clear message for all of us. We all have our failings and instead of wasting our energies in calling others names, we would serve ourselves better if we use up our energies and time in systemic corrections around us. But then we are hardly capable of heeding the simple and straight messages!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

CT Final

An eye opener for those who feel and say IPL,  BPL and Asians only are corrupt. If England losing CT final was not throwing the match in the end, no match in the world in any sport was ever thrown or fixed.

Friday, June 14, 2013

One shot tells it all again

Again it is one ball that tells it all, and again the batsman playing that ball is KA Pollard. The match I am talking about is ODI between SA and WI held today, the 14th of June, 2013, ending moments ago. 

Pollard couldn't have any business playing the shot he did to get out at that moment and under those circumstances (of rain approaching), if he were playing with the purpose of seeing his team through to next round i.e. semi final in the ongoing prestigious Champions Trophy. And if he committed such  harakiri on his own without the blessings of the team management, there is no reason why he should be playing for WI ever again. There you are!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Final

Mumbai Indians 148/9 (20/20 ov); Chennai Super Kings 125/9 (20/20 ov)
Mumbai Indians won by 23 runs

It was the final of a tournament that had spanned almost two months and included 75 matches prior to this one. In India, every day, almost every newspaper and electronic news channel had earmarked more space and time to this event of no consequence than to any other matter of national or international importance. So to win the final must be a matter of great pride and the competing teams will display fantastic competitive cricket, one would have thought. Was it so?

Before coming to this match, let us see what happened in the final last year, and what happened in the match these two teams played a few days ago. In the finals last year, CSK had scored 191 runs batting first, and in the match against MI they had scored 192 runs. The team batting second, KKR, had successfully chased 191 runs in the last final. Therefore, what would you have expected as a punter when CSK came to bat to chase a very moderate 148 against above background and their top batsmen having fired of late in this tournament?

And was MI losing 3 top wickets including their captain in the 4th over for 16 natural cricket? Could be, couldn't be? One has to use one's better judgement. See the balls bowled and shots played. Were the shots played by them to get out characteristic of them considering their recent form. Didn't it appear as if Rohit Sharma was trying to give catching practice to the bowler. And then in the 3rd over, Dinesh Karthik was plumb LBW and not given. Some said height saved him, some said probably inside edge saved him. But clearly it was the umpire who saved him.

With MI 16/3, odds of 1.41 in f/o CSK appeared a bit high, indicating that recovery by MI was due at some point of time in the match and it so happened. A well set Pollard played a number of dot balls or singles, and got less strike towards the end before hitting 2 sixes off last 2 balls.

Once CSK batting started, punters backing CSK got no chance to cover themselves. CSK lost 3 wickets in no time, and were 58/8 in 11.3 overs. Dhoni who often promotes himself in critical situations as this and does well, forgot to do so in the all important final. He rather demoted himself and did well down the order scoring 63 of 45 balls. But he was wise and careful to regulate pace of scoring such that at no stage CSK came into contention and his innings was of no consequence, either for the match or for the odds. 

The failed captain won and the losing captain performed well once again.

And how did session scoring, the key indicator to fixing, progressed in this prestigious final played at the height of the ongoing fixing scandal? In the first session, the scoring pattern was such that the end score remained less tha or equal to the score offered at any point during the session except for 3-4 balls in the last over, i.e. 50 x's and at most 4 y's, Something quite improbable for natural cricket, as we have seen.

And the scoring pattern in next session of 10-20 overs of Mumbai's innings was even more improbable for natural cricket with 54 y's and 0 x's taking standard average of 8.75 runs per over for last 10 overs for bookies' offers. That means scoring in this session so progressed that the end score was more than the offered score at any point during the session.

I repeat, that is the dark reality of a prestigious final played when Indian media was shouting itself hoarse about the ongoing fixing scandal. 


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Match of Fluctuations

Rajasthan Royals 165/6 (20/20 ov); Mumbai Indians 169/6 (19.5/20 ov)
Mumbai Indians won by 4 wickets (with 1 ball remaining)

Rahul Dravid's last IPL match was also a match of fluctuating fortunes. The captain himself did well, being the highest scorer for his side, while ending up on the losing side. In their last match, he had flopped and his team had won. A phenomenon often adopted by the script writers and the actors, as indicated in my earlier book 'Inside the Boundary Line.'

Taking average of 7 runs per over for the bookies to offer the session score, the scoring pattern got so controlled that the score at the end of the first 10 over session was such that it was less than or equal to the offered session at any point during the session. Something improbable for natural cricket as already seen. Before Watson got out, RR appeared to be competing well. But they started losing wickets at short intervals after Watson was out, to be a precarious 108/6 in 15.3 overs. But then they were helped by some wayward bowling from MI, led by their ace bowler Malinga once more, and were able to post more than  competitive 165/6 in 20 overs. 

In the process, the 10-20 over session got manipulated the other way through heavy scoring in last 3 overs. Taking an average of 10 runs per over for bookies to offer the session, except for one or two balls, at any point the offered score was less than the end score. If cricket were natural, such a thing happening has a probability of one in trillions.

The odds indicated bookies' belief that chasing would not be much difficult for MI, and MI didn't disappoint them. However from a very comfortable winning position at 125/1 in 14 overs, they wobbled badly to be 141/5 in 17.3 overs. Having lost Pollard, they required 23 runs from last 2 overs, and were still favourites (with odds of 1.7 in their favour) to win and did win rather comfortably, though with only a ball to spare.    

Hodge hogs the Limelight

Sunrisers Hyderabad 132/7 (20/20 ov); Rajasthan Royals 135/6 (19.2/20 ov)
Rajasthan Royals won by 4 wickets (with 4 balls remaining)

RR were the pre-match favourites with odds of about 1.82 in their favour. SRH got the advantage of winning the toss and choosing to bat first. Having struck a big match winning opening partnership of 89 in their last match, they lost their first 2 wickets for 3 in 2.3 overs  (deceiving the punters thereby). When Sangakara came on mic to tell White and Dhawan needed to bat a little longer, White got out for SRH to be 55/3 in 11 overs. 

SRH recovered somewhat to post 132 in 20 overs, about average score for them this season. Dhawan, the brisk scorer even in test match against Australian bowling attack, scores just 33 off 39 balls before getting out. Sammy started scoring really well towards the end, but then got himself run out to decelerate the scoring. He ran himself out attempting a second after having gone deep in the crease on the non-striker's end on the first run. Even a school boy won't have done so.

To offer first session score, it is safe to assume an average of 7 runs per over, something like that (or with very marginal variation to that) being generally adopted by the bookies. In no circumstances it is ever less than 6 runs per over. The scoring in the first session of SRH batting so proceeded that the session score of 48 at the end of 10 overs was such that it was equal to or less than the score on offer at any point during the session, an improbability for natural cricket as we have seen.

The scoring in last 3 overs (18th to 20th) so progressed that the ultimate score of 132 was (must have been) the score x offered by the bookies during most part after 17.2 overs. A  way to fix adopted often to rob the punters, as explained by the bookie on Times Now on the 20th May, 2013.

After chasing by RR began, inspite of early loss of Dravid's wicket, they were very comfortably placed by the 7th over with 50/1, and odds in their favour being 1.12, before loss of Watson's wicket. The scoring in the 6 over session was controlled such that exceptionally high score (against the run of play) was made in the 6th over as is another usual way of fixing. From 50/1, RR suddenly slumped to 57/5 in 10 overs, SRH becoming favourites with odds of 1.55 in their favour now. But striking a body blow to punters who would have taken SRH win for granted at that stage, in view of their strong bowling potential and performance earlier in such situations, Brad Hodge, who was overdue for a heroic innings in the tournament took RR home from there on.

The match was turned again on its head in the 14th over when KV Sharma was taken for 18 runs, mainly by Hodge. Earlier Sharma had been taken off bowling after taking a wicket of his first over. Interestingly commentator had commented that he was held back for Hodge, Hodge not being so comfortable against spin. This is how punters are be-fooled.

Sammy, the hero so far in the match, was brought to bowl the last over, RR still needing 10 runs to win. He bowled lolly pops for his first two deliveries enabling Hodge to hit sixes with ease. Earlier couple of run out opportunities of Hodge were duly missed by SRH.

A Plausible Script

Chennai Super Kings 192/1 (20/20 ov); Mumbai Indians 144 (18.4/20 ov)
Chennai Super Kings won by 48 runs

A plausible enough script on the face of it. Strong CSK batting clicking. But not so plausible for the strong MI bowling to flop miserably, their ace bowler Malinga going for maximum among the bowlers, 45 runs. 

While CSK scored a massive 192 in 20 overs, the scoring in first session of 10 overs was so manipulated that for most part, except for may be a ball or two, the score on offer by the bookies remained such that the ultimate session score was same or less than the offered score, assuming an adopted average of 7 runs per over by the bookies. A reasonable enough assumption. And the manipulation in the next session of 10-20 overs was the other way round, taking even average of 11 runs per over for the remaining overs for bookies to offer session. Score at the end of 10 overs being 69/1, and 192/1 after 20 overs. A normal looking phenomenon, but scoring patterns were such that statistically improbable occurrence for natural cricket, took place in two consecutive betting sessions. 

Hold on. Not two, but something with probability of more than 1 in trillions and millions to happen, happens three out of three times in a match. And don't forget, this was the match being played when the nothing but IPL scandal was in the Indian media. The scoring in the first 6 over session of MI innings was also such that, even taking average as high as of 8 runs per over for bookies to offer session score, the ultimate score was more than the maximum offered at any point of time during the session.

Though MI not able to chase down more than challenging CSK total and folding up for 144 looks normal enough, it will be worth watching how the key to chasing down this total for MI, Pollard, lost his wicket in the 15th over.

To Bat Freely

Kolkata Knight Riders 130/7 (20/20 ov); Sunrisers Hyderabad 132/5 (18.5/20 ov)
Sunrisers Hyderabad won by 5 wickets (with 7 balls remaining)

Gautam Gambhir won the toss and decided to bat first, saying they wanted to bat freely. If you were a punter engaged in session betting, believing in goodness of all men, how would have you put your bets. Of course, for the runs to be scored as offered by the bookie. And you won't have been disappointed seeing a 4 being hit off the 2nd ball. But undoubtedly with what followed thereafter.

While telling the world that they were going to bat freely, this is how the dangerous KKR batsmen scored in the first ten overs of the first session.

5,5,7,3,7,6,9,5,5, and 4. The score at the end of 6 overs was 33/1, less than even 6 runs per over in the power-play overs. If there were a 6 over session being offered by a bookie, the scoring remained such that the ultimate score was equal to or less than the minimum score that would have been offered by the bookies at any point of time during those 6 overs, even by adopting an average of 6.5 runs per over, generally that must have been at least 7, and even if that of 6 runs per over were adopted after fall of 1st wicket (in 4.3 overs) for remainder of the 6 overs. Something happening which has a probability of 0.5^30 or 0.5^24, if bookie opened the session after 1st over. 

Same applied to the standard session of 10 overs, score at the end being 56/2. Something happening again which would have been an impossibility if natural cricket was played, as seen earlier. This is how KKR batted freely.

KKR didn'/couldn't bat freely even in the remaining 10 overs with as many as 8 wickets in hand, and could muster only 130/7 in 20 overs.

Let us also see how odds behaved during the match. To start with SRH were the favourites with odds of 1.86, and odds hardly ever went beyond that, never after fall of 1st KKR wicket. So for all practical purposes, the match remained one-sided. But some jitters were caused up the spines of SRH backers towards the end, as is done quite often in otherwise  one-sided matches, when from 100/1 in 13.2 overs, SRH slumped to 112/5 in 17.5 overs. Requiring to score just 131 to win they were under no pressure to collapse like that. Was it to or did it justify the absurd late inclusion of wicket-taking bowlers into attack by KKR? 

If you are playing to win, defending a low total you will press your lethal bowlers into attack earlier than normal in an effort to get early wickets. In this match, KKR did the opposite. Sunil Naraine, their known trump card bowled just 1 over before the match was virtually over by the 9th over. And Iqbal Abdulla, who turned out to be the most successful bowler, was pressed into attack as late as the 11th over.

During KKR batting, strangely enough the odds remained stable at 1.7 in f/o SRH even though breaking the shackles, good 9 runs were scored in the 15th over. Sure wicket of Kallis fell the first ball of the 16th over. The bookies had again shown that they were equipped with supernatural powers.

Friday, May 24, 2013

A Match for Pride?

71st match: Pune Warriors v Delhi Daredevils at Pune - May 19, 2013
Pune Warriors 172/5 (20/20 ov); Delhi Daredevils 134/9 (20/20 ov)
Pune Warriors won by 38 runs

It was a match of no consequence in IPL 6. And a match of no consequence becomes a match played for pride. So was this match. Pride of PW prevailed over pride of DD. Interestingly DD started losing the plot from last two balls of their ace bowler Morne Morkel's spell and lost it in the next over by Umesh Yadav, the 19th of the innings, conceding 24 runs. PW didn't score much in the next over, the last of the innings, towards session manipulation.

DD started their chase with pride, but early in the 3rd over their ace batsman Warner decided that too much pride was not good for them and lost his wicket. Their captain first tried to get run out, then stumped off the next ball he faced. On his failure, he got frustrated and offered a lolly-pop of a catch off the next ball, a widish one outside the off stump. A critical viewing of the shot will make one understand whether he got out or played the shot for the purpose of getting out.

By the end of the 8th over, DD had totally surrendered their pride, Sehwag failing yet again, leaving the punters having backed them stranded. Whatever hopes of a fight back could be there got evaporated just after the 2nd strategic time out.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Large Scale Fixing Gets Established

What is being reported in the media is as if there was astray spot-fixing only involving three bowlers alone, and only one over in each of the three matches.  It can’t be so for following simple reasons and facts.
1.       How could bookies know well in advance that these particular players would be playing in those matches, the trio not being the regular team members? That is if the deals were struck in advance, well before the toss when the teams are announced. Police may enlighten on this aspect.
2.       A bowler alone can never ensure how many runs will be scored of a particular ball or in an over, unless it is wide enough to be out of reach of batsman and/or wicketkeeper. There was not a single such ball in these three overs reported. So for scoring of particular runs, complicity of batsmen is necessary. Fielders complicity also may or may not be necessary, depending on what shot is played and what is the involvement of the fielder/s for a particular shot.
3.       Chandila Over: He was to concede 14 runs in second over of his spell. And conceded exactly 14. Without batsmen knowing how many runs were to be scored of the over, Chandila alone couldn’t ensure that, without the involvement of the two batsmen since the strike changed twice through the over. Chandila as a bowler alone could ensure scoring of 14 runs only if it is guaranteed in game of cricket that a particular ball will get a particular fate i.e. if batsman and fielders are of no consequence. We all know it is not so. For example it was not in Chandila’s hands that Finch would successfully attempt a sweep for a boundary of the last ball.
4.       Sreesanth’s Over: He was to concede 14 or more runs in his second over. He conceded 13 runs and bookies were happy as per police. Once again, bowler alone can only bowl lose balls but can’t ensure how many runs will be scored of a ball. Not going far, as reported, in this over itself first, third, and fourth balls were such that could be hit for boundaries, but were not. Similarly Gilchrist could or could not hit the 5th and the 6th balls for boundaries. It was not in Sreesanth’s hands. Why were bookies happy even though contractual runs were not scored? I shall address this also subsequently.
5.       Chavan’s Over:  He was to concede at least 13 runs in his second over. 15 runs were scored of this over and bookies must have been happy.  14 runs were scored of first 3 balls, and many more could be scored of the next 3 but only 1 run more was scored.
6.       Each time why second over of the bowler’s spell? As it turns out to be, these were the 3rd, 4th and 3rd overs of the first innings of the match (in each case) respectively. Now here it is necessary to know and understand how the illegal betting market, that is so much talked about to be the reason behind fixing in the sub-continent (though I know for sure it is not limited to sub-continent), works. The standard, regular and large scale betting takes place for runs to be scored in a continuous number of overs known as session (or bracket). The current standard practice is that the first session for betting consists of first 10 overs. Sometimes, though not very common, it may be 9 or 8 or may be even 7 or 6 overs as decided by the bookies depending on how fixing has taken place (scripting has been done). There is no worthwhile betting taking place for runs to be scored in one particular over. This fact has already come out in British journalist, Hawkins’ book also.
Session betting mostly starts after first over. The bookie offers a particular score, say 66-67
 for the session. That means one can bet either for 67 or more runs to be scored or less than 66 runs to be scored at the end of the session (10 overs). (If exactly 66 are scored, bookie would win and you will lose whatever was your bet). This score on offer by the bookie varies with each ball (i.e. may vary). Suppose a 4 is scored of next ball, then the session score may change to 68-69 or 69-70 as per bookie’s choice. Similarly if next 2 balls are dots, the session score may come down to 65-66 or so. In other words, the session score on offer at a time would be score on board + adopted (by the bookie) average per over x the remaining overs of the session +/- a small number depending on the momentum of the game or bookie’s whims. The betting returns are 1:1, that is for a rupee bet you lose a rupee or win a rupee.
Coming back to why 2nd over of the spell? Because these were the 3rd, 4th, and 3rd overs of the innings and the session, as mentioned and explained above. And as it turns out, these were the first overs in the session to start high scoring. 16 runs before this Chandila over had been scored in 2 overs before that, 11 runs in 3 overs had been scored before Sreesanth’s over in question, and 10 runs had been scored in 2 overs before Chavan’s 2nd over. The fixed overs thus were the first in the session to start high scoring. This is how scoring took place for the remaining overs of the session after these overs:
After Chandila’s over:     13,7, 11,5,8,6,12   a total 62 in 7 overs 
After Sreesanth’s over:  4,9,14,7,7,9            a total 50 in 6 overs
After Chavan’s over:        2,8,14, 11,6, 7, 8   a total 56 in 7 overs    
So the high scoring starting with the overs in question continued till the end of the session such that more than average runs per over adopted for first session (usually 7) were scored thereafter. That corroborates that fixing for this over was not something in isolation as that would have no meaning, but a part of the larger session fixing. This is also corroborated further by the fact that when Chandila (or Chavan) talked to the bookie after doing the job, the bookie told him to wait till session was over. Something like that was told by the Delhi CP in his first press conference on the subject. 
Once it is clear that fixing of this over was a part of session fixing, a very pertinent and explosive question arises? How could these bookies know that 2nd over by these bowlers would be the 3rd or the 4th over of the innings? For all that matters, they could start bowling after the 10th over. And it is none’s but a captain’s prerogative when a bowler bowls. Therefore the captain of the fielding side, whosoever he may be, had to be in the knowhow.  
7.       Next, bookies won’t have paid these players without having ensured scoring pattern for the remaining overs of the session. Fixing just one over gives them no returns. That fixing was for the larger session is confirmed by the wording of the contracts of the fixers with Sreesanth and Chavan at least. Not any exact number of runs but ‘14 or more’ and ‘at least 13.’ Further why were bookies happy even if less than 14 runs were scored in his over? Because one run less at this stage didn’t matter much in final session score that could be covered/adjusted through remaining overs.
That would mean fixing of the first ten overs of these three matches at least, involving a number of bowlers and fielders of the fielding side, i.e. almost whole side of Rajasthan Royals, and at least all the batsmen who batted during those 10 overs from Pune, Punjab, and Mumbai. That would include a big chunk of players, based on available evidence itself (supported with irrefutable logical deductions).
8.       On the larger canvass, once existence of session betting is established through utterances of CP, Delhi Police, the existence of continuous fixing with involvement of all gets established. Simply, the session betting can’t exist and continue for years as it has been, if the bookies didn’t have support of fixing. While for a match result, the bookies could control the odds based on bets being received to save them from any loss, no such book making could be possible in session betting (which is a larger market than match result as per bookies’ accounts themselves on national channels recently) and bookies would run the risk of heavy losses if they couldn’t control the scoring pattern. It is very simple and requires nothing but common-sense to understand all above.

While I write above, a bookie telling the world that it was not spot fixing but session fixing, is being telecast on Times-Now. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Proof of Fixing is in Cricket Played

Royal Challengers Bangalore 106/2 (8/8 ov); Chennai Super Kings 82/6 (8/8 ov)
Royal Challengers Bangalore won by 24 runs

One doesn't have to go far to look for evidence of fixing. What is required is a little knowledge of/about cricket, seeing the cricket being played over some continuous period of time, a little common sense and its application. Knowledge about betting is not necessary now-a-days as fixing becomes too obvious in the cricket being played itself. This match comes under that category.

CSK win the toss, put RCB in and feed them with bowling to allow them to score 106 runs in an 8 overs a side match. Let us assume that is natural cricket as a result of RCB batsmen clicking that particular day.

One would suppose that CSK were playing to win. How do they go about chasing this big score with a number of distinguished hitters being in their ranks and all of them being in form, having come good this season. A boundary is scored first ball. Fine. No boundary is hit/attempted next 7 balls in an 8 over game, and chasing with required run rate of more than 13 runs per over. Then conveniently two quick wickets are lost, and next boundary is hit in the last ball of the 3rd over when required run rate has already touched impossible proportions. 

CSK captain, the super hero, Dhoni doesn't promote himself this time and comes to bat only after nothing is there to bat for. He hits 24 of 10 balls, a few big hits towards the end, before getting out. Had he come up the order and scored those runs, the odds would have had changed a lot, but his scoring as he did had no effect on the odds since match was already over.

What would any punter have expected from natural cricket in an 8 overs a side match? A number of fluctuations in the prospects of the two teams and a very close match, and would have placed bets accordingly. But early in the match, by 3rd over or so of RCB batting, the match swung in favour of one team and continued so without even a far competition by the best batting side of the tournament.

The Mighty bite the Dust

Kings XI Punjab 183/8 (20/20 ov); Mumbai Indians 133 (19.1/20 ov)
Kings XI Punjab won by 50 runs

MI won the toss and put KXIP in who were soon 6/2 in 2.2 overs, the odds in f/o MI, the pre-match favourites, still being as high as 1.37. And from there on they lost the plot, their best bowler Malinga going for 20 runs in his first over, the 8th of the innings. Mandeep Singh once again (was it consecutively 3rd time?) opened the batting to get out very early. KXIP went on to score an impressive 183, their scoring having decelerated a bit towards the end for session manipulation.

With the pitch and the ground, and MI's strong and performing batting, it was considered just above par score and accordingly the odds were high at 1.8, this time in f/o Punjab. By the 10th over, MI had lost their 4th wicket for 69 and the match had decisively gone in favour of Punjab. It continued so, Punjab winning by a big margin of 50 runs over one of the strongest teams. 

MI scored well in first 6 overs, scoring 14 runs in the 6th over, to be a healthy 51/2 at the end of this session and well in hunt. Can be said to be natural, though the natural phenomenon of high scoring in power-play overs doesn't happen about 8 times out of 10. But what is worth noting is how scoring dropped suddenly after 6th over even though same set batsmen were batting. Only 11 runs were scored in next 2.3 overs before next wicket was lost.

Interestingly, with similar 15.4 runs required per over in last 5 overs as was the case in their match against SRH when 15.5 runs were required in last 4 overs, with Pollard being on the crease in both the cases, the odds were around 1.1 in f/o the opposing team this time compared to 1.35 earlier. And MI had gone on to win comfortably from there on against SRH.


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Staged Cricket Continues

Sunrisers Hyderabad 136/9 (20/20 ov); Rajasthan Royals 113/9 (20/20 ov)
Sunrisers Hyderabad won by 23 runs

After arrest of RR players for fixing, one would have thought that RR won't dare to indulge in it again. One couldn't be more naive. 

Before the start of the match, Rahul Dravid, the captain of RR proclaimed that they would bounce back. And they did, by reducing the SRH, having the weakest middle and late order batting line up among all the participating teams, to 5/3 in 2.4 overs. With the great track record of RR in chasing this season, the match appeared to be all over for SRH. The captain, Cameron White, with his team at 5/2 had played as irresponsible a shot as any. duly controlling the power of the shot such that the ball didn't fly over boundary, to get himself out for zero.

From there on it was the turn of SRH to bounce back. They recovered well scoring without any problem, yet their greatest hitter Perera having been hitting sixes with ease in the tournament, scratched around in the end, not even attempting a single boundary of the 13 balls he faced. As a result, they scored just 7 runs in the last over to manipulate the session score (to great advantage of the fixers).

Samantray, the top scorer and backbone of SRH batting this innings, was run out as early as in the 6th over through a direct hit, getting back in the crease very casually and carelessly, but no one appealed. Clearly this run out happened as a result of carelessness of Samantray or the fielder hitting the stumps, and was not scripted. And none of the close-in fielders appealing would also mean that all of them were aware what the script was.

While chasing RR were comfortable till the 8th over, though scoring a bit slowly, inspite of having scored 13 runs in the 5th over, before Dravid got himself run out. And suddenly the match turned on its head to leave punters trapped. Next wicket went soon after and RR were 61/4 in the 14th over, with the main threat Watson also having gone. The consistently successful chasers of IPL 6 collapsed to 113 chasing a small total of 136.

This is how Rahul Dravid and his men bounced back.

Match after the Scandal

Kings XI Punjab 171/4 (20/20 ov); Delhi Daredevils 164/7 (20/20 ov)
Kings XI Punjab won by 7 runs

It was the first match held after the arrests of the playing IPL players of Rajasthan Royals including Sreesanth. If one would have thought that this match had to be clean and couldn't be fixed, one couldn't be farther from the truth. The small irritants of sting operations and police becoming active out of nowhere, haven't had any effect on the much larger picture of continuous staged cricket in the past, and didn't have any effect this time also. 

DD won the toss and put the opposition in, to lose the match as comfortably as they have been losing most of their matches this season. The last season they were on the top of the table. 

KXIP batted well to start with, slumped in middle overs, and scored heavily in last 5 overs (68 runs), in contrast to what they had been doing in most of the matches this season. Some may find/claim it to be natural, but not those who understand session betting.

When DD start batting chasing 171, what would a punter expect? Obviously expectation will be for them to score well in the first 6 overs of power play, these overs constituting the session as well. And what happens? They score only 11 runs in 2.3 overs even before losing a wicket, after losing one score only 1 run in next 6 balls before losing the pinch hitter, who had otherwise been batting well and hitting sixes in his last few outings. Then the captain Warner walks in and very clearly gives catching practice to one of the slips. DD are 12/3 in 4 overs, and a mere 21/3 in the session of 6 power-play overs. What is being termed as spot-fixing by media and others is this session-fixing, that covers most of the match. And if it is taking place all the time as it is coming out of the scandal, it is clear that total fixing is taking place. Let us not deceive ourselves.

When DD required 61 runs of last 4 overs, the odds were less than 1.10 in f/o KP, and they lost one-sided as expected, Jayawardene losing wicket first ball after the break by controlling power of his shot to hit straight to the fielder. The margin of 7 runs would make one feel that it was a close match, but it wasn't. Most of the runs were scored by DD towards the end when match had gone out of their reach, the odds remaining below 1.05 in last 3 overs. 

The other day, when MI required to score at about same rate against SRH, the odds were as high as 1.35 in f/o SRH, and MI went on to win that match, the batsmen hitting sixes/fours off virtually every  ball at will against one of the best bowling teams of the tournament.

Friday, May 17, 2013

A match under Cloud

Mumbai Indians 166/8 (20/20 ov); Rajasthan Royals 152/7 (20/20 ov)
Mumbai Indians won by 14 runs

The match is already under fixing cloud. Dravid dropped a sitter of Tare in the 7th over. But alas! there is no recording of a conversation with a bookie to tell it was on purpose. We won't believe our eyes but will believe only when after years some conversation is recorded somewhere or some agency tells us something. The book 'Inside the Boundary Line' suddenly appears to have come alive. The sign language, the mafia running the fixing from abroad, another big scandal being brushed under the carpet naming it just some astray spot-fixing, all is there.

81 runs were scored in the first session of 10 overs, much higher than the usual or average in the tournament, especially for MI who had been scoring slowly in the first session so far. And it was for this purpose that Chavan was made to bowl as he did in his second over. I doubt if betting is done for score in a particular over. No doubt, all had to be involved in this session manipulation as always is/has to be the case. The bookie telling Chandila/Chavan to wait till session was over, also clearly points to that the end purpose was session score.  

As mostly happens, the dropped batsman Tare hurt RR much to the extent that they lost in the end, even though MI, uncharacteristic of them in this tournament, faltered badly in the end overs, playing dots, to score only 27 in last 4, in contrast to big hitting at will just in the last match to win that from almost an impossible situation. That was the session manipulation and fixing to make punters lose badly through that 10-20 overs session betting as well.

How precisely Rayudu hit the ball to get caught just inside the boundary! Such precision one can see almost in every match, and in thousands of catches having been given, through past recordings. 

Obviously the script had demanded RR to lose this match, and they batted to lose in a one-sided affair without much fight, having successfully chased in many earlier matches.

The odds never or hardly ever went beyond starting odds of 1.7 in f/o MI such that punters expecting RR to chase well as in previous matches, and backing RR hardly got chance to come to a win-win position or cover their losses.

PW Try Hard but Don't Lose

Pune Warriors 170/4 (20/20 ov); Kolkata Knight Riders 163/7 (20/20 ov)
Pune Warriors won by 7 runs

Before I post analysis/observations about this match, another match-fixing scandal, conveniently named spot-fixing as usual, has come out. Irrespective of that, the staged cricket is to continue as usual. About that, may be later. 

To viewers of this match, it would have appeared that PW were bowling and fielding to lose this match also. But still they won as KKR did better to lose it when it had come well under their control. After bowling two wides for 10 runs in the opening over and then coming to clear ascendancy with KKR 29/3 in the 5th over, PW again let the match slip, by bowling into strong areas of Yusuf Pathan rather than in his weak areas, and continuous misfielding. 

Then with match in their grasp with 122/3 in 15 overs, Pathan and Doeschate well set and in total control, it was KKR's turn to commit harakiri. They did so well and lost in the end, Doeschate getting himself run out and Pathan getting himself out for obstructing the fielder.  Was it and could it be natural? See the recordings and decide for yourself. Is Yusuf Pathan so dumb as a cricketer?

Punters must have got trapped twice, first when match appeared to be in total control of PW and secondly when KKR were in a very comfortable position as mentioned above.

PW batting was seemingly a normal game, session scoring being subtly and aptly manipulated unnaturally.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A One-Sided Match

Chennai Super Kings 168/4 (20/20 ov); Delhi Daredevils 135/9 (20/20 ov)
Chennai Super Kings won by 33 runs

The starting odds were 1.5 in f/o CSK, and remained around or below that for most of the match, going up to 1.65 for the best, for fleeting moments in between, such that punters and viewers expecting a fight/some competition from DD lost/were disappointed. 

The early wicket of Sehwag was necessary to ensure that match and odds remained one-sided. When DD gave some fight with CSK 88/3 in 12 overs, the odds remained one-sided being 1.5 in f/o CSK even then.

Dhoni, as usual, was fed with full tosses and lose balls.