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Puppeteer

ICC Reports Match Fixers Are Targeting Cricketers During Downtime To Build New Relationships

The coronavirus pandemic has brought the cricketing world to a standstill as the last cricket match that was played was back on March 15. This was a game that took place in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) and since them domestic and international cricketers from around the world have been quiet.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has sent out a warning stating that while the cricketers have been quiet, a number of known match fixers have been very active on social media. The ICC Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) has been keeping a close watch on individuals who have a shady reputation for fixing matches and found that they are targeting cricketers who are active on social media during this time.

They are using this time to approach cricketers and try to build a relationship. This is the general modus-operandi of bookmakers as they never directly introduce themselves as a fixer. They build a relationship by establishing themselves as influential people who can help players get lucrative sponsorship deals and contracts with big brands. Players end up trusting these individuals and it is only then that an approach is made to spot fix or match fix!

No Cricket – No Money

ACU chief Alex Marshall said that this was a very tough time for cricketers, especially those involved in the domestic circuit as no cricket means they will be getting little to no money coming in. This made it a very opportunistic time for match fixers as it makes it easier for them to lure players with the promise of big money.

The ICC has been working hard to weed out corruption from cricket and educate players from all over the world about match fixers and the way they work. While the top international cricketers will not feel a pinch in their finances, the domestic cricketers and fringe players will be vulnerable to these match fixers who are looking to make the most of this opportunity.

The ICC remains confident that its efforts to combat match fixing and educate players over the consequences of match fixing will hold up during these tough times. The ICC is once again cautioning players to be aware of who is approaching them on social media. Cricket players have been told to immediately report any approaches made to spot fix or match fix. The ICC has not reported any new match or spot fixing approaching during this downtime.

Indian Cricket Tainted By Match Fixing

It is a known fact that match fixers pay special attention to the Indian cricket market as it is the most lucrative cricket market in the world. India is home to a population of over 1.3 billion people and the majority of them are avid cricket lovers.

Indian cricket has been tainted over the years as match fixers have managed to sway both players and team owners. Some of the players who have been targeted by match fixers include former captain Mohammad Azharuddin, Navjot Singh Sidhu, Manoj Prabhakar and Sreesanth.

The Indian Premier League (IPL) saw two of its popular franchises in the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Rajasthan Royals (RR) suspended for two years after it came to light that the team owners had connections to known match fixers.

The Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL) and the Karnataka Premier League (KPL) have also been tarnished with serious match fixing allegations going back to the last couple of seasons.

BCCI President Sourav Ganguly has confirmed that the BCCI ACU is also keeping a close watch on players and are confident that if any of the Indian players are approached, they will immediately report the same to the ACU.

Indian Players Very Active On Social Media

The top Indian cricket players are usually active on social media but with all the downtime they are now spending a lot more time on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Just to give you an idea of how popular the top Indian cricketers are on Instagram: Virat Kohli has 54.7 million followers; MS Dhoni has 22.4 million followers; Rohit Sharma has 13.1 million followers; KL Rahul has 5.6 million followers and H Pandya has 10.8 million followers.

Indian players have been told that match fixers will create fake social media handles and approach them in the disguise of fans, gain their confidence and then make them an offer to spot fix or match fix!

Cricket

Australian Captain Shoots Down Claims That Aussies Go Soft On India To Get IPL Contracts

Michael Clarke, the former Australian captain has created quite a buzz in the cricketing world by going on a popular radio show in Australia and making some serious allegations over the current Australian team.

Art of Mental Disintegration

Clarke, who was also referred to as ‘Pup’ by his teammates, made his debut for Australia when Steve Waugh was captain. The Iceman was the one who pioneered the art of mental disintegration during his leadership where the Aussies always resorted to sledging in the lead up to the game as well as on the cricketing field.

When Steve Waugh retired, Ricky Ponting took over the captaincy and continued the same brand of cricket. This brand of cricket was quickly embraced by players like Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne, Brett Lee and Michael Clarke who were never shy to get into their opponents faces and heads by resorting to verbal abuse or sledging.

The Aussies were the most dominant team in all forms of the game during this era as Waugh and Ponting had enormous success with this brand of mental warfare and took advantage of a talented bunch of players who were ready to take mental warfare to the opposition. Clarke did his best to follow the same brand of cricket during his tenure as captain.

Current Team Too Soft On India

Michael Clarke claims that the current set of Australia players have forgotten the Aussie way of playing cricket, especially when it comes to playing against India. Clarke says that the Aussies have gone soft and no longer engage in the art of mental disintegration when playing against India.

No one can argue the fact that the Australians are a lot softer in their approach to the game, especially during the last 12 to 18 months. Clarke claims that the Australians do not want to antagonize top Indian players like Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma because they are afraid that it might hurt them when it comes to the IPL auction.

Rohit Sharma captains the successful Mumbai Indians franchise and Virat Kohli captains the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). These two IPL franchises are known to spend heavily when it comes to acquiring foreign players during the IPL auction. Clarke claims that Australian players realize that these top Indian players carry a lot of weight during the IPL auction and they don’t want to sledge them and get on the wrong side of them.

This is because they fear that they might put in a word to the IPL franchise owners and deliberately overlook them or not push hard in the auction and bid a high price. In order to protect their financial interests and secure a lucrative IPL contract, Aussie players are now forced to abandon their sledging and be nice when they play India!

Tim Paine Disagrees With Clarke

Current Australian captain Tim Paine did not agree with Clarke’s assessment and claims that his players do not let any IPL contract get in the way of them giving their 100 percent for Australia, every time they take the field. Paine said when India and Australia play, both sides go hard at each other whether it is test cricket, ODIs or T20 cricket.

Paine pointed out that the Australians had deliberately toned down their style of play after the sandpaper incident in South Africa. The ball tampering incident resulted in both Steve Smith and David Warner who were captain and vice-captain at that time receiving a 12 month suspension.

When Paine took over the captaincy, he decided to change the way the Aussies played cricket and looked to rebuild the Australian’s team reputation and legacy with cricket fans all over the world. Paine said that when they played against India, they did not go hard at Virat Kohli because they realized that he was one of those players who actually raised his game when he was sledged and put under pressure.

Paine said the Australians were not afraid of resorting to on-field banter when it is required but focused more on letting the ball and bat do the talking these days. Paine also said that he had no plans of stepping aside and giving the captaincy back to Steve Smith now that his ban has expired. The Australians will focus on winning the T20 World Cup which is scheduled to take place in October in Australia.

Cricket Field

MS Dhoni Might Be Forced Into Retirement If 2020 IPL Does Not Take Place

MS Dhoni was the center of Indian cricket for over a decade as he captained India to a T20 World Cup championship and an ICC ODI World Cup championship. Captain Marvel slowly started fading from the limelight once he relinquished the captaincy to Virat Kohli and has now been out of the public domain for close to a year.

MS Dhoni Disappears From International Cricket

When India lost the semi-final of the ICC World Cup in May 2019, MS Dhoni was expected to announce his retirement from the ODI game and play only T20s going forward. Dhoni has achieved everything there is to achieve in the ODI format. His fans expected him to keep going and play the T20 World Cup in October 2020 and then say goodbye.

MS Dhoni did not announce his retirement after the World Cup loss in 2019 nor did he divulge any of his plans to the public even though the media kept hounding him about his cricketing future. Instead, MS Dhoni asked the BCCI for a break from cricket and just went off the grid. He stopped playing both ODI and T20 cricket and made himself unavailable for selection.

The pressure to find out what MS Dhoni was going to do next got so intense that the Sourav Ganguly who was not yet BCCI President at that time said it was up to the BCCI to have a chit-chat with Dhoni and find out what his plans for the future was.

Ganguly is now the BCCI President but there has still been no confirmation as to what MS Dhoni’s plans to do next.

IPL 2020 Was Dhoni’s Chance To Shine

Head coach Ravi Shastri told the media that MS Dhoni was still part of the team’s T20 World Cup plans in Australia as they could not afford to overlook a player with his experience and caliber. Shastri said that although MS Dhoni has not played any international cricket, the 2020 IPL would be a great platform for Dhoni to show the selectors that he still has what it takes to play in the World Cup.

MS Dhoni has captained the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) franchise from the first edition of the IPL and has had massive success with CSK winning three IPL tournaments. CSK along with the Mumbai Indians are considered to be two of the most successful IPL franchises.

MS Dhoni was in the news in early March when he once again surfaced in Chennai to be a part of the CSK IPL camp. However, the COVID-19 pandemic brought things to an abrupt halt as the BCCI decided to postpone the IPL and CSK decided to dis-band their camp. MS Dhoni went back to his hometown of Ranchi and once again vanished from the public’s eye.

Will The Selectors Back MSD?

The BCCI is yet to make a decision on whether the 2020 IPL will be cancelled. They will wait till the end of April before making a decision. Should the 2020 IPL be cancelled, MS Dhoni will then not have any role to play in swaying the selectors over his selection for the T20 World Cup later this year.

The decision to select or drop MS Dhoni will be left up to chief selector Sunil Joshi and his panel. This will be a key decision for the selectors as the BCCI has now made the selectors accountable for the performance of the Indian team. What this means is that the selectors can no longer afford to let their emotions or MS Dhoni’s past achievements dictate whether he makes the team or not.

The selectors will have to look at the candidates vying for the wicket-keeper role and decide if MS Dhoni is their first choice or second choice. Rishabh Pant has had the most of the opportunities in MS Dhoni’s absence and will clearly be a front runner for the position given the fact that he is young and is a dynamic player in the T20 format. MS Dhoni should be the number 2 option as Sanju Samson hasn’t really done enough to push Dhoni out of contention. However, Virat Kohli has preferred having KL Rahul keep wicket in recent months and if Kohli decides to back KL Rahul, it could close the door on MS Dhoni and force him into retirement!

Ipl

India Bettors Will Be Disappointed With 2020 IPL Cancellation

The Indian Premier League (IPL) is the biggest and richest T20 domestic cricketing league in the world. The IPL has taken place every season for the last decade even through adverse circumstances and situations as the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has always found a way to host this lucrative T20 competition.

The IPL usually runs for a period of 6 weeks and features the most exciting international and domestic T20 specialists from all over the world. The 2020 IPL was expected to commence at the end of this month and Indian cricket fans were looking forward to supporting their favorite IPL franchise while punters were eager to place their bets and see if they can come out on the winning side.

Will The IPL Start on April 15?

The BCCI and IPL governing committee made the decision earlier this month to postpone the start of the IPL due to the on-going concerns and restrictions brought about by COVID-19. A meeting was called with IPL franchise owners who made a decision to postpone the tournament and not take a risk on the health and safety of the players.

BCCI President Sourav Ganguly stated that the IPL will be postponed to April 15 and that his team will carefully monitor the situation and provide updates on a weekly basis. As of now, the IPL is still scheduled to start on April 15 but that appears highly unlikely as all the IPL franchises have cancelled their training camps and their overseas players are yet to travel to India.

Indian sports bettors remain hopeful that the 2020 IPL will take place even if it is a mini version of the tournament. The global situation will have to improve significantly in the next week, if the IPL is to commence on April 15 as the organizers and players will have just about a week to prepare themselves.

The BCCI confirmed earlier that the plan is to have the 2020 IPL take place in empty stadiums in order to protect players and fans. A number of IPL foreign players including Ben Stokes and Jos Butler continue to practice in England as they believe that a shortened version of the IPL will take place!

How Long Can The IPL Be Delayed?   

Indian cricket fans remain hopeful because a member of the BCCI who preferred to remain anonymous said that the IPL body can delay things till May 1 and still get into a mini-version of the tournament. The two most likely scenarios in this case will be to schedule double header matches each day. The earlier IPL schedule only had matches taking place in the evening due to the heat and humidity in India.

To get in as many matches as possible, the organizers will have to schedule 2 matches per day. The first will start around 2.30 pm IST and the second match will start at the usual 8 pm IST schedule time. The IPL teams will have to agree to play in difficult conditions in order to get the tournament underway.

The second scenario is for the IPL to reduce the number of games and still stick to the schedule of having just one game per day – during the evening. The usual IPL schedule has each IPL franchise playing the other franchise two times during the season and then the top four teams on the points table advance to the playoffs.

A shortened version will see the IPL make the decision to host a mini-tournament where each IPL franchise plays the other team just once. The points table will still be followed and the top four teams will go into the playoffs. Rumours suggest that the latest that the IPL championship final can be held in June 5.

Will The 2020 IPL Be Cancelled?

The big question is whether all of this will be possible or whether the 2020 IPL will be cancelled. As of now, India is on a completely lockdown till April 14 and it seems highly unlikely that we will get any cricket action in April. The BCCI and IPL governing body will wait till the last minute before taking a final call on the 2020 IPL. However, as of now it looks like the 2020 IPL will be cancelled and Indian bettors will not be able to place any bets on the 2020 IPL.