In the World of Cricket, a Peculiar Hoax

'Sports Illustrated' explains how villagers in India created a fake tournament to scam bettors
By Gina Carey,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 24, 2023 3:50 PM CDT
It Takes a Village (to Build Fake Cricket League, Scam Bettors)
An actual IPL player bats during the VIVO IPL cricket T20 match.   (AP Photo/Bikas Das)

A group of men in a remote Indian village put up a makeshift cricket stadium and managed to scam Russian online betters, at least for a while—a tale that reveals how far corruption and match-fixing runs in the "gentleman's sport" as well as online gambling. Sports Illustrated goes in depth on the story of Shoeb Davda, a struggling Molipur bangle merchant and the sole breadwinner of his family. When Davda tried to find work abroad, he ended up stuck in Moscow, where he was paid to play cricket in fixed matches. Eventually he was sent back home to recreate the scheme, closely mimicking the Indian Premier League, a globally popular cricket tournament that spans eight weeks every spring (and also comes with its own storied history of fraud).

In just six weeks, Davda transformed a local millet farm into a cricket field that was worthy of IPL (at least in how it appeared online), complete with lights, high-def cameras, and streaming capabilities. The set-up included players outfitted in IPL team uniforms and fake umpires suited with walkie talkies so they could fix plays. Davda and others brought on to manage the hoax set up 45-minute matches three times per day for their bogus tournament, but just nine days into the sham, they were busted by local police. The story separately unravels IPL's own legacy of corruption, India's illegal betting market (estimated to be worth $150 billion), Russia's 1xBet and the high-profile death connected to it, and Davda's personal story as he got pulled into the shady underworld connecting each. Read the full story. (Or check out other longforms).

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