Fake IPL-like cricket league busted in Gujarat; 4 arrested
Police have busted a gang conducting a fake T20 cricket tournament in Gujarat’s Mehsana to take bets from Russian bookies by live streaming the matches and arrested four of its members, an official said on Monday (July 11).
Mehsana Special Operations Group (SOG) police inspector Bhavesh Rathod said the key accused Shoeb Davda had prepared a cricket ground on a rented agricultural field and hired around 20 farm lands and local youths to play the game wearing jerseys displaying fictitious teams.
The other three accused are Kolu Mohammad, Sadiq Davda and Mohammad Sakib. Except Sakib, all others are residents of Molipur village in Vadnagar taluka, the police said.
A Mehsana SOG team raised the cricket grounds situation on the outskirts of Molipur village on July 7 after being tipped off about a betting racket involving Russian punters.
The police seized cricket kits, flood lights, power generator and video cameras used for live streaming the matches, LED TVs, a laptop and some radio walkie-talkie sets all collectively worth ₹3.21 lakh.
Police said that after investigation they have found that it was Davda, who used to live in Russia, who conceived the whole idea of organising an IPL-like tournament to lure Russia-based bookies to bet on the teams by telecasting the matches live on their YouTube channel.
“During his stay in Russia, he learnt about cricket betting from one Asif Mohammad who advised him to organise such fake tournaments. Shoeb first took an agricultural field on rent and turned it into a cricket ground,” the official said.
To make it look authentic, the gang installed flood lights and video cameras on the ground for better live coverage and registered the tournament as Century Hitters 20-20 on CRICHEROES mobile app and started the live telecast two weeks ago, he said.
The fake teams in the tournament were given names like Chennai Fighters, Gandhinagar Challengers and Palanpur Sports Kings.
To play T20 cricket matches, Shoeb had hired around 20 farm labourers and local youth who would get ₹400 per match, he said.
“While live streaming the matches on their YouTube channel, Asif, sitting in Russia, took bets from bookies. He is still in Russia and is wanted in the case,” Rathod said.
During a match, Sakib Mohammad, who is originally from Uttar Pradesh and came to Molipur to help Shoeb, used to be in touch with Asif through the Telegram app and gave instructions using a walkie-talkie to Kolu Mohammad and Sadiq Davda, who acted as umpires on the ground, he said.
The umpires would pass on the instructions to players, who would bowl a slow ball or the batsman would intentionally get out to help the gang in earning more through bets, he added.
(With inputs from agencies)