The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Chain pulled in Karachi, city stops
- Reverse swing in secret betting pockets

Calcutta, March 13: The wildly fluctuating fortunes in the India-Pakistan cliffhanger in Karachi kept the bookies busy in and around the city through the day.

Keeping pace with the frenetic pace set by the batsmen of both teams, the odds changed with almost every passing over.

The morning began with the hosts as firm favourites. The going rate — place Re 1 on Pakistan and get Rs 1.80 if they win; put Re 1 on India and pocket Rs 2.25 if they pull it off.

By the time the famed Indian batting line-up had finished with Pakistan’s pace attack, reverse swing had come into play — place Re 1 on an Indian win and get Rs 1.65; put Re 1 on a Pakistan victory and grab Rs 2.25.

As Inzamam-ul Haq got into the groove, the gap between favourites and challengers narrowed steadily. By the 46th over, there was nothing to choose between the two — Re 1 on either team would fetch a winning deal of Rs 1.35.

Despite several efforts initiated by police to prevent betting during the high-profile series, bookies across the city and in its adjoining areas swung into action much before Sourav Ganguly and Inzamam walked out for the toss.

The occasional betting tip-off kept officers at the Lalbazar police headquarters on their toes, but long after the last ball had been bowled, there were no reports of any bookies being caught in the act.

In the run-up to the Karachi clash, police had raided several places in the twin cities and arrested several “confirmed cricket-betters”.

The “drive was part of the preventive measures” undertaken by police to keep things clean, explained an official of the detective department.

Police in Howrah had conducted raids in Debson Road, Foreshore Road and the Shibpur area and rounded up 15 persons, including agents and linkmen involved with betting syndicates. Detective department sleuths raided several places in Burrabazar and Posta, boasting of some of the busiest betting-centres in this part of the country.

“Also, this was the first time we conducted an extensive raid in the Topsia and Tiljala areas with help from the South-24-Parganas police,” said an officer of the detective department. “We, however, did not find anything to suggest that betting was on.”

A team comprising 10 officers from the anti-rowdy squad was formed a week ago. “The officers were instructed to tap cellphones of those who head our list of suspects when it comes to cricket betting,” said a sleuth.

Deputy commissioner, detective department (I), Soumen Mitra said today that there had been no specific information about betting and so no one had been arrested.

A section of officers at Lalbazar, however, confirmed that betting was very much on in several pockets, but the bookies had managed to stay a step ahead of the sleuths.

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