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Pak Bookies Rake In Cash On England Match

Lahore: In a tiny room overlooking a slum, four men work a dozen or so phones, struggling to keep up with calls from Pakistanis placing illegal bets on a cricket match in England. Some phones
PTI September 09, 2010 12:00 IST
PTI
Lahore: In a tiny room overlooking a slum, four men work a dozen or so phones, struggling to keep up with calls from Pakistanis placing illegal bets on a cricket match in England.

Some phones are rigged to tape-recorders to ensure that gamblers do not renege on their wagers later on.

The men are small-time gangsters, but sit on the lower rungs of something much larger: an underworld betting industry that spans the cricket world and has been implicated in a match-fixing scandal engulfing Pakistan's national team.

While there is little by way of evidence, these Lahore bookmakers and others close to the trade say notorious Indian crimelord Dawood Ibrahim sits atop the global syndicate. The United States accuses Ibrahim of supporting al-Qaeda and funding attacks in India.

The bookmakers said fixing in the sport, especially in the Pakistani team, had been common for years.

Such is the variety of bets available on every aspect of the game - not just the outcome - a player can perform to order and not necessarily affect the result.

Knowing what will happen in any match can be extremely valuable information to gamblers and bookies.

"Almost each match is fixed in some department, " said one of the bookies, who asked to be identified only as "PK. " He added, however, that neither he nor his customers was aware of this information, suggesting scams on that scale went far higher up the syndicate.

"It goes right to the top, " he said.

Business was brisk yesterday night, when Pakistan's disastrous tour of England hit a new low as Shahid Afridi's depleted lineup was bowled out for 89 - its worst total ever in a Twenty20 international - and ultimately lost by six wickets.

Test captain Salman Butt and bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir were suspended by the International Cricket Council last week for allegedly being involved in "spot fixing" after a British tabloid newspaper sting uncovered evidence that some players were being secretly paid to deliver no-balls at set times.

The invitation was given by the bookmakers to see them at work for Tuesday's match.

PK and his fellow bookie, "Amer, " insisted that their real names not be used or their faces photographed or filmed because their work is illegal.

And this is despite warnings of a crackdown on illegal gambling by Pakistani authorities and the International Cricket Council.