Indian Premier League 2020 in the Gulf may be a gift for Cricket-crazy expats in region but is a boon for those who are on dark side of the game. It is a paradise for match-fixing; it got chance by default as Covid-19 pandemic forced the BCCI to move away from India. For match fixers and those involved in other malpractices, no situation could be better than this one. It’s not a statement but true feeling of every cricket lover. This could have been avoided.
2 superovers in first 10 days?
IPL 2020 was scheduled between September 19 and November 10 in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah. The very first match of IPL 2020, played between Mumbai Indians (MI) and Chennai Super Kings (CSK) has raised many eyebrows. In first 10 days, there have been two superover matches. As many as 60 T20 matches will be played in IPL 2020. Will there be more superovers?
Matches in Epicentre
Fixers and bookies operate simply and smoothly to make it big in the IPL. When it comes to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a known epicentre for match-fixing and other corrupt practices, buying a cricketer is not difficult for bookies. The Indian government used to consider the UAE an unholy place for cricket; it was averse to sending its national team over there. Why this change of heart?
UAE’s dirty past
This time around, no objections were raised when the BCCI, under former cricket captain Sourav Ganguly and secretary Jay Shah, decided to take the Indian Premier League to the UAE, which was viewed as the best venue to host the multi-million dollar event during the ongoing pandemic.
Over the last 10 months, the ICC has banned six UAE international cricketers for their involvement in match-fixing. In September alone, the international cricketing body punished two UAE players—Ashfaq Ahmed and Aamir Hayat—for accepting large cash and expensive gifts from fixers. According to an ICC investigation report, Ashfaq and Hayat had UAE Dirhams 15,000 (about Rs 300,623) each from a known corrupter in exchange of fixing aspects of an international match. So, when the IPL is already underway, a big question arises: will the shadow of corruption and match-fixing reach the tournament?
Dhoni's snail pace raise eyebrow
Chennai Super Kings captain M.S. Dhoni’s way of playing and some unexpected turns in the game have occasioned many questions. Interestingly, the BCCI will not be availing the services of the ICC’s anti-corruption and security unit for this IPL; the partnership was dissolved last year, reportedly over cost concerns. It means IPL 2020 will be without vigilance. ESPN Cricinfo has reported that the board’s position “raised a few eyebrows” over what many saw as effectively putting a price tag on the fight against corruption and ensuring the integrity of the sport.
Sports integrity at risk!
This time, the BCCI’s own anti-corruption and security unit, headed by Ajit Singh, will be on the job. As international mafia and betting syndicates reportedly have a huge presence in the UAE, it may be a tough task for the board to keep their glamorous tournament corruption-free. “There are nearly 80 foreign players involved from across the world along with Bollywood stars, their staff and supporters. No one is saying that there is corruption in the IPL; we are confident that there isn’t. But are they doing enough to keep it that way?” a media report said, quoting an anonymous state cricketing association official. The BCCI has inked an agreement with Sportradar, a sports integrity solutions and sports data products company, to support the board’s anti-corruption unit in monitoring and checking the integrity of matches during the IPL this season.
Chor bana kotwal!
This decision is the BCCI’s biggest folly, for the involvement of Sportradar is a potential case of conflict interest as the entity and its parent company, Betradar, provides services to bookmakers across the world. It means the BCCI has appointed a body with questionable credentials to check corruption! According to the Sportradar website, “We provide all the necessary services to run a bookmaker operation, such as pre-match odds services, live odds and live data services, risk & liability management services, betting stimulation tools (including statistics and live scores), live streaming services, innovative gaming solutions and e-sports betting services.”