The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Millions ride on big ticket
Priyanka in Karachi.

Karachi, March 12: As India and Pakistan get ready to pad up, bookies are getting ready to make a killing.

Inzamam-ul Haq’s boys are the favourites, with a Re 1 bet promising a 75-paise gain against 115 paise for India. But this could change with every ball bowled and run scored.

Bookies, whose agents operate clandestinely out of small shops, are offering to pay the money in 10 minutes. “I haven’t seen such cricket fever that grips the entire city. We saw a lot of new faces who wanted to bet,” one agent said.

As expected, the yields on Sachin Tendulkar and Shoaib Akhtar were the lowest. But this did not keep fans from betting. “I don’t care whether I lose or gain. For me, my star Sachin is the best because he is my luck,” gushed Ahmed Tareen, a 23-year-old Pakistani fan.

“Win or loss is part of the game. My favourite will be Shoaib,” Javed Hussian butted in.

Some Indians were also trying their luck. “My choice will be multiple like Moin, Afridi and Sehwag. I select players for their game, not country,” 35-year-old Mohan Kumar said.

The ranks of Indian visitors received a celebrity touch with the arrival of law minister Arun Jaitley and Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi. “It is nice to be here,” Priyanka said.

She visited the office of social worker Abdul Sattar Ehdi, who runs an orphanage.

“I’m impressed with your work. I wish peace and harmony for the people of the region,” Priyanka said at the Ehdi Welfare Trust office.

For tomorrow’s one-dayer, a bookie estimated bets of over $1 million in a city of 14 million. The odds were set in South Africa and India before being communicated to Pakistan, bookies said.

Some 40 bookmakers with 2,000 agents control the thriving but illegal betting network.

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