Book Excerpt: ‘Indian Punter League’ by Abhishek Bhatt

Book Title: Indian Punter League
Author: Abhishek Bhatt
Publisher: Westland Publications Limited
Number of Pages: 246
ISBN: 978-9357769747
Date Published: Nov. 30, 2023
Price: INR 310

Indian Punter League by Abhishek Bhatt Book Cover

Book Excerpt

Game Day (Pg 207- 210)

Imagine, game day for an IPL opening match. Players walk out of their hotel, with an air of excitement and nerves. The team bus is waiting for them, the engine rumbling as the driver revs it up. The team members, dressed in their warm-up gear, climb on board, exchanging jokes and banter.

The bus makes its way to the stadium, the players take a moment to gather their thoughts. This was their chance to make a statement, show the world their talent and prove that they were a force to be reckoned with.

The locker room is abuzz as the players reach the stadium and put on their cricket gear. They take on the field to stretch their muscles and get their bodies ready. A light meal before the game.

Meanwhile, outside the stadium, spectators are lined up, eager to get in and take their seats. The sun shines down on them, and the sounds of cheers can be heard from miles away. The vendors are doing brisk business, selling bottled water, sodas, and snacks.

The fake IPL that shook the world started with all those rituals albeit with key differences. Instead of two separate team buses, both rival teams boarded the same vehicle, loaded with not two, but six team jerseys.

There was no massive stadium, of course, but the excitement at the farm could have rivalled that of Wankhede. The ‘locker room’ was a tent set up at the edge of the boundary near long on, where the players changed into their uniforms with as much amusement as pride. They checked their backs for the name assigned to them and were thrilled to find when they got a famous player’s name on their shirts. ‘Oh bhai tu Kohli chhe!’ ‘Waah re mara Surya!’

What about the spectators? There were none on the ground. But the spectators that mattered were the gamblers who sauntered in to watch the game, thousands of kilometres away, past the Maltese crown of the underground casino in Moscow. Disco and Kumawat ushered them in to their plush seats, where they were plied with drinks. Huge screens around the room showed the proud logo of the IPL.

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On game day, Petrov had a ritualistic preparation for his illegal betting desk. He started by gathering his team, who were responsible for taking bets and maintaining records of the transactions.

He then laid out his table, adorned with a green felt cover, and set up his computer systems that were connected to the main server in the basement. The server would keep a record of all the bets placed and the money exchanged, ensuring that Petrov’s operation ran smoothly.

Next, Petrov prepared the cash, counting out large stacks of roubles and placing them in neat piles. He made sure to have extra cash on hand in case of any last-minute bets. Petrov also assigned his trusted employees to monitor the cricket match, keeping a close eye on any sudden shifts in odds or any unusual betting patterns. This information would be fed back to Petrov, who would then make quick decisions on adjusting the odds and taking bets accordingly.

Finally, Petrov set up his accounting system, which would record all the transactions made during the match. The system was designed to track the flow of money, ensuring that every bet was recorded and accounted for.

With all the preparations in place, Petrov took a deep breath, ready to gin up the excitement of the game.

‘What’s the news from Mehsana?’ he asked Disco. Disco called up Faizal, ‘Bhai, kidhar?’

The genuine Indian Premier League, known for its electrifying day and night matches, was set to commence eight hours later. Faizal’s team was already at their ground. Minor and sometimes major differences between the real IPL and the counterfeit version were often overlooked by the unsuspecting gamblers throughout the day. Their ignorance of the sport of cricket was exploited to the hilt.

‘We’re at the ground, starting in about half an hour,’ Faizal told Disco.

Kumawat jumped in on a conference call. ‘Let’s test out the video feed,’ he said.

Faizal went up to Vimla and asked, ‘Are you ready with the test feed?’

‘In a minute.’

Vimla’s video streaming bay at the base of the raised structure was a highly sophisticated setup that looked like a typical news broadcast ENG mobile facility. The make-shift tables shakily standing on the dusty ground were lined with state-of-the-art equipment, including high-definition cameras, sophisticated sound systems, and powerful servers. All of the equipment was connected to a massive, high-speed network, all powered by a generator chugging nearby, allowing the team to send livestreams of the match to anyone in the world with a reliable internet connection.

She initiated a test stream to the Moscow casino, sending a YouTube link of the match listed on an official-looking website. At first, everything seemed to be going according to plan, with the test feed, a shot of the empty field, appearing on Disco’s small screen without a hitch.

‘Do you see it?’ Faizal asked Disco.

‘All set, yes,’ said Disco and asked Kumawat to patch it to the big screen. Just then, the picture began to break up and the sound became garbled.

Extracted with permission from Indian Punter League by Abhishek Bhatt, published by Westland.