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Matched on perfect 10 in last 10 overs

Mumbai, March 13: “I heard (Javed) Miandad bit off half his finger nails, but I nearly bit off my entire finger,” exclaimed a top Mumbai-based bookie after the needle finish in Karachi.

Unleashing a whopping Rs 5,000 crore betting extravaganza on the Indo-Pak one-dayer, bookies on either side of the border came off as good as the men in blue at the end of the day.

The day started with the odds heavily in favour of Pakistan at 68:135. This means that on a rupee invested on a Pakistan win, one would fetch only 68 paise, whereas an Indian victory would fetch a rupee and 35 paise.

Though Indian bookies lost out on a Sachin half-century and a Dravid century, they gained points after the 25th over when it looked like India would post a substantial total. As Sehwag and Dravid played their shots, the odds on India hopped to 110:90.

The tables turned after India crossed 300. The equation now stood at Pakistan Rs 8, India 9 paise.

Wahan (on the playing field) to kuch bhi nahi hua, jo hua satta bazaar me hua,’’ a bookie said over phone.

But the game — and the betting — was hardly over yet. Inzamam’s knock raised Pakistan’s chances both on and off the field. By the time he completed his century, the teams stood chin to chin at 90:90.

“The best part was that in the last 10 overs of the match India and Pakistan stood at 10:10. I don’t remember something like this happening in my entire career,” the bookie said.

He said that like the Indian bookies lost out on Sachin and Dravid, their Pakistan counterparts bit the dust with Shoaib not taking four wickets; Pakistan opting to field after winning the toss; and India scoring more than 250-270 runs.

“We added up everything and reckon that on both sides the losses were nullified,” he said.

At the start of the tour, Pakistan was the favourite with odds of 78:100, but that may change after India’s performance today, satta bazaar sources said. “It’s strange but by the next one-dayer the two teams may start on an even rate,” they said.

Top bookies like Sobhan Kalachowkie are on the run because police have smelt an unprecedented betting frenzy and stakes not seen or imagined till now. Joint police commissioner Satyapal Singh said Mumbai police had fanned out to neighbouring states to arrest Sobhan and his gang.

Police sources said keeping a tab on the bookies would be difficult because “everyone” seemed interested in the betting that triggers as much excitement as the game.

The Vajpayee-Musharraf bonhomie seemed to have rubbed off on the bookies, too, they said. With bookies in Mumbai and Karachi working closely, 40 per cent of the money would be routed through hawala channels.

“This time there is an understanding that the deals will be strictly in cash. During the India-Pakistan matches in 1998, top Mumbai-based bookies had suffered massive losses after Dawood issued orders to stop payments, also known as sauda fok,’’ the sources said.

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