Monday, March 11, 2013

A Fixing Analysis

Here is the fixing analysis of the first ODI between SA and Pak held on 10/3/2013.

It was the first limited overs match between the two teams after the T20 match held on 3rd Mar, 2013. In that match, SA were thrashed by Pak in a one sided affair. Pak batting first had scored 195, and chasing, SA were bundled out for 100 in 12.2 overs.

Now in this match, Pak won the toss and elected to field. SA started cautiously but started scoring freely from 4th over onwards (something to do with session betting as well, but I shall not discuss that here). The odds increased very slightly in f/o SA, up to about 1.75 in those first 3 overs (nothing wrong with that), and went on decreasing thereafter, being about 1.5 even after loss of first wicket. After quick loss of 2nd wicket, odds in f/o SA must have shot up a bit, but after quick addition of further 30-40 runs, same came back to about 1.5. Nothing much wrong, as with the score then, a score of around 300 plus in 50 overs was on the cards.

But with the score at 271/4 at the end of 47 overs, innings score of even 300 not being in sight (SA had lost a wicket in the 47th over and scoring momentum in last 5-6 overs, in fact after 40th over had been slow), the odds in f/o SA stood at about 1.18. And SA scored 44 runs in last 3 overs of their innings (something to do with session betting also). The odds at the end of the innings were about 1.15. A clear indication that inspite of their superb batting display in last T20 against almost same/similar bowling attack, inspite of Pak fielding a strong batting line up, inspite of commentators saying that pitch was good for batting and that a close finish was on the cards, Pak were going to lose this match in a no-contest. And it happened so.

315 in 50 overs is not considered an insurmountable total now a days, though by all means it put the team posting the total first in an advantageous/winning position. There was no Steyn or Philander or Morkel in SA bowling attack, and Pak did have a strong batting line up. In past, in such situations, the odds have been as high as 1.5 in f/o team having batted first, and if my memory serves me right, on such an occasion the team batting 2nd not only competed well, but also chased successfully.

With Pak at 42/0 at the end of 7th over, considering everything, from cricketing angle, it was an even contest. But the odds in f/o SA were a meager 1.33 or thereabout. What would any unsuspecting punter at that stage do? He/she, 99 out of 100 (unsuspecting i.e. who are not aware that it is staged cricket), would place bets as per his/her capacity backing Pak for a net return of about $ 3 for every  $ wagered.

Then first, the first wicket was gifted, and soon after, the second wicket fell as a result of scripting ingenuity (though whether Hafiz was given out rightly also remains debatable). The third wicket also fell soon, and even after a partnership of 49 runs in 58 balls, the two stalwarts getting set, the odds in f/o SA remained about 1.07 only, just before the fourth wicket fell. Wickets continued to tumble, even though Shahid Afridi hitting some lusty shots for public consumption, such that the odds never went beyond 1.05 thereafter. Pak, who had scored 195 in last T20, were all out for 190 in 36.2 overs. The commentators had no problems in justifying this capitulation by Pak as a result of batting against score-board pressure.

What I would like one to understand from above is that the Pak innings was so scripted that the odds in f/o SA remained well below 1.10 from 12th over onward.

Now, why it was done so and how the fixers would have gained? To start with, the punters (unsuspecting) would have expected Pak to do well after their showing in the last T20 (and in that T20, no one even in dreams would have expected Pak to do as well and SA to do as poorly as they did after their performances in the preceding Test series). And they must have hoped them to come back and compete, throughout, even when chips were down. The odds on offer remained quite tempting to back Pak for most of the match, especially in initial overs of Pak batting, as mentioned above. Most of the unsuspecting punters, thus, would have lost in this match, never getting opportunity to square their position in one-sided affair. Must have meant wind-fall for the fixers.

Some can say, and many would say ‘bosh and non-sense, how could run-out of Hafiz be pre-scripted?’ Why not? There could always be pre-scripting to try it, and if not successful there could always be plan B for Hafiz to get out soon after. 

One more thing comes to mind. Considering everything was pre-scripted, why was the first Pak wicket scripted to fall on 42, why not on, say, 34 or 51? Could be that syndicate/s knew from rich experience beforehand that this would be about the score for the purpose (for first wicket to fall) to optimize/ almost optimize their gains. Another reason could be, and more likely so, that a net sum total of very large bets were placed to back Pak just before that, and a message was conveyed during over change or otherwise through sign language for wicket to fall i.e. for Jamshed to get out. 

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