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Elaborate fake cricket league in India scams Russian sports bettors

Talk about a bad beat.

A group of villagers in western India ran a fake professional cricket league – and went to incredible lengths to sustain the ruse – in order to con oblivious sports bettors in Russia. The racket has since been busted up by local authorities.

From The Times of India:

[A] Gujarat village almost pulled off an elaborate con with a fake IPL – complete with farm labourers masquerading as players, a Harsha Bhogle mimic and even an “official” Telegram channel to take punts – for a remote audience of Russian punters addicted to betting on the thrills and spills of T20.

The charade playing out in a remote farm at Molipur village of Mehsana district reached the “knockout quarterfinal” stage before the organisers of the “Indian premier cricket league” were caught out by the cops. 

The whole caper is amazing. The fake league was cooked up by two guys who frequented Russian pubs. It started almost a month after the actual Indian Premier League season ended. They rounded up a few farmers and “unemployed youth,” putting them in actual IPL team uniforms.

They installed flood lights on a farm and threw up some HD cameras that could stream to YouTube. They found a guy who sounds like Harsha Bhogle, who is apparently the Mike Francesa of Indian cricket. And then they started taking bets through Telegram and (it sounds like) rigging the fake game as they went along.

Betting on cricket is illegal in India, so the masterminds of the plot might be in a sticky wicket (holy cow we just pulled off our first cricket pun). But here’s to hoping the legal ramifications are not too severe. Because this is hilarious.

Also: I’m surprised we don’t get more of these stories. Remember when everyone was watching Belarusian soccer during the early days of the pandemic? They could have been showing us old footage of the Bulgarian premier league and 98% of the viewers would have no way to know the difference. Someone should license old college football games next and stream them into Sergei’s SportsZone in Moscow.

James Kratch can be reached at james.kratch@xlmedia.com

James Kratch is the managing editor of ESNY. He previously worked as a Rutgers and Giants (and Mike Francesa) beat reporter for NJ Advance Media.