Monday, March 18, 2013

Third ODI between PAK and SA - 17/3/13

So it was another 180 degree swing, contrary to my guess. But a good match to show fixing much more clearly. 

The book 'Inside The Boundary Line' talks a lot about session betting. Let us see how the session fixing manifests itself. SA batted first, or rather Pak fielded first as they had won the toss. The first session or bracket was for first 10 overs. After first ten overs SA were 26 for 1, though they had clearly been scripted to win (an interesting give away by fixers as shown subsequently). Let us say, session score on offer was 44-45 or 45-46, or x,x+1 to start with. Throughout this session, scoring got so regulated that the score on offer never crossed what was offered initially. The early exit of Smith further helped. With continuous slow scoring, the score on offer went on decreasing steadily during this session. True there were odd boundaries in between, resulting in a slight jump in score on offer very temporarily, but didn't matter in the final session outcome. The final score of 26 was such that it remained less than the minimum score on offer at any point of time during this session. This got ensured through final 8 or 9 balls of the session being dot balls (10th over being maiden) inspite of a boundary having been hit in the 9th over. For such manipulation of scoring, it is imperative that ball to ball, or almost ball to ball is prescripted and the script is executed accordingly.

Now let it be known that this type of scoring pattern, within a range of specific overs specified by the bookies (illegal?), is not a one-off phenomenon happening once in ages. This gets repeated quite often, one can easily see/find from recordings of T20's (IPL, BPL, SLPL, Big-Bash, Friends' T20, Champions League, or international T20's - bilateral or world cup), or 40 overs a side matches in England, or ODI's, or Test Matches having been played for honour of countries. And all cricketers, without exception, can be seen to be in action repeatedly during such sessions. It may be interesting for ICC to find out what will be the probability of such scoring patterns happening as explained in above para, if natural cricket was played.

That's not all. The next session of up to 20 overs went the other way, in keeping with how the overall match was to progress. For most of the session scoring continued such that score on offer always or almost always must have remained above x+1, the initial score on offer, and also the score at end of 20 overs at 92 (for 2) was higher than the maximum score on offer at any point of time during this session. One can come across number of repeats of this type also from recordings. Again it may be interesting to find out the probability of such scoring patterns happening naturally.

Manipulation of session scoring as above would trap the punters indulging in session betting, as once having made wrong moves they won't find any escape route and would tend to make more wrong moves. And those having made initial right move would tend to square that up subsequently in order to be safe, and in anticipation of gain both ways if the session score finally is between minimum and maximum on offer during that particular session. Though it may happen so once a while, but generally or mostly it doesn't happen so as illustrated above. I am sure the probability of session scoring happening as it does would be a few hundredth if natural cricket were played.

It is as simple to understand that men's international cricket is nothing but staged drama, and has been so for years. But it appears that human race is incapable/unwilling of seeing/accepting simple truths.

In short and very simply, session betting could not have existed if cricket was not staged/fixed. Continuous existence of session betting itself is proof enough of continuous staged cricket. Both have to co-exist. Anyone having sufficient understanding of session betting and having some common-sense would vouch for this. 

The movement of odds in this match also was very interesting and a clear give away of fixing. The starting odds were about 1.58 in f/o SA as in earlier ODI's. With very slow scoring at the start, even before fall of Smith's wicket, the odds had risen to about 1.70. So far so good. But with fall of Smith's wicket, a big wicket at that, the odds rose only to 1.75. Simply inexplicable. Should have gone up to at least 2.00 (even money)! Not only that, even with subsequent scoring at a crawl, the odds didn't increase further, rather kept on coming down such that with score of a meager 26 for 1 at the end of 10 overs, the odds were back to about 1.6 in f/o SA. Though the same should have been less than even money (2.00) in f/o Pak. Out and out inexplicable, but for simple explanation that bookies/fixers knew what was going to happen. The odds further went down in f/o SA with further scoring, to rise again to be just 1.77 in f/o SA when score was 42/2 in 14 overs. Logic would have demanded odds to have been maximum 1.75 to 1.8 in f/o Pak at such a stage of the game. The odds again came down very fast from having been 1.77 in f/o SA for a very brief moment. And surely a record 3rd wicket partnership for SA followed, SA scoring a massive 343 in their 50 overs, batting Pak out of the match.

Not going into much details, it should suffice to mention further that even with Pak score of 97/1 in the 17th over while chasing, the odds in f/o SA were only 1.2, match virtually ending after fall of 2nd wicket, Afridi's brisk 88 amounting to nothing. A point to ponder. Why should Afridi not have been sent in after fall of first or second wicket, with such a massive score to chase? Had he been sent in then and had he started scoring as he did, there would have to be an appreciable jump in odds, which couldn't be allowed. So Afridi comes in after match is virtually over. 


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