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Bookies ready for desert clash

Arunoday Mukharji and Toral Varia | April 18, 2006, 7:35 AM IST

New Delhi/Mumbai: An India-Pakistan cricket match always promises to be an exciting affair. More so, if the two archrivals clash at an exciting venue after six years.

So as India takes on Pakistan for the DLF cup at the Zayed stadium in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, temperatures are running high – both on the ground, and off it. Tuesday's encounter between India and Pakistan will be the 12th between the two teams since 1st January 2005.

The 16,000 capacity stadium built in the middle of the desert will be hosting its first ever international match on Tuesday with India playing in the Gulf for the first time since 2000.

A spectacular laser show coupled with a dazzling fireworks display and a field performance by acrobats and a 300-member cultural troupe will officially inaugurate the Zayed Cricket Stadium as the One-Day venue.

But the excitement is not just amongst cricket lovers in this desert paradise, but also in the betting circuit across the nation.

Multi-crore bets are being placed even before the matches have begun and bookmakers say over Rs 2,000 crores is expected to be placed in the betting circles during these two matches.

"The is excitement 100 per cent. During India-Pakistan matches, the business goes up at least by 50 per cent, and this is the best time for the bookies," a Delhi-based bookie said.

The bookies have already worked out the stakes and advanced betting worth Rs 10 crore have already been placed. Bookkies also say whoever wins the toss and elects to bat first will win
“The first day match will attract a lot of money at least a minimum of Rs 50 crore will be placed in the beginning and this amount will constantly increase after the first ball is played," a Mumbai-based bookie said.

Ranchi wrecker Mahender Singh Dhoni is the current bookie flavour and bets are placed at Rs 1.15 if he hits a half century and can go up to Rs 8 if he manages a ton.

As the booking business takes a feverish pitch, police, too, are not taking any action. Though most of the bookies have moved their base out of Mumbai, the city police are trying to tack them down.

"This is an era of information technology and most bookies use hi-tech methods for business and that makes it increasingly difficult for us to track them," Deputy Commissioner of Police, Enforcement, Mumbai, Sanjay Aparanti, said.

Intelligence sources say underworld don Dawood Ibrahim's presence in the Gulf, has interestingly coincided with the two match series, has further fuelled speculation about the feverish betting on these matches.

India had stopped playing cricket in Gulf after fears were raised over the influence and involvement of bookies in the regions, specially during India Pakistan matches.

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Rank Team Points Rating
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3 England 4366 104
4 South Africa 3177 102
5 Australia 3270 99
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Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 6745 125
2 India 7071 122
3 New Zealand 4837 112
4 Australia 5543 111
5 South Africa 5193 110
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Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 7748 277
2 England 4253 266
3 South Africa 4720 262
4 India 8620 261
5 Australia 5471 261
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