Indian police are investigating an alleged betting scandal in which a sham cricket tournament was held in an Indian village and passed off as a Twenty20 contest played in Sri Lanka.
Players portrayed as Sri Lankan cricketers played two matches on Monday last week that were broadcast with live commentary on YouTube, media reports said, along with ball-by-ball coverage on top Indian sports Web sites.
The organizers hung Sri Lankan advertisements at the ground for added authenticity and put up tents to block the view from outside the remote rural venue, set in farmland next to a busy highway.
Police said that they raided the venue in northern India’s Sawara village — thousands of kilometers from Sri Lanka — after receiving a tip-off that the matches were being used for betting.
They added that two people were arrested on charges of fraud and gambling — which is mostly illegal in India.
The organizers and players are being sought.
“They pretended to be Sri Lankan teams, playing in Sri Lanka with the motive of online betting,” Mohali police chief Kuldeep Singh Chahal told reporters.
Leading Indian sports Web sites had announced that the “Uva T20 league” was organized by the “Uva Cricket Association” at a stadium in Sri Lanka’s southern Badulla city.
They said former Sri Lankan internationals would take part and that it would include four teams and 14 games between from Monday last week to yesterday.
However, the Uva T20 league does not exist and Sri Lanka Cricket denied hosting it, adding that no tournament of that name was organized in the nation.
One of the players advertised as playing in the event, former Sri Lanka international Farveez Maharoof, tweeted that the tournament was “fake.”
The owners of the village venue in India, Strokers Cricket Association, said that the organizers told them they were playing a domestic tournament over about a week, but without spectators because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We don’t know who was organizing this match,” an official from the Strokers association told an Indian newspaper.
“Even we were not allowed inside. They had blocked the view with tents around the ground,” the official said.
It was unclear how many people watched the event online or how much money was put on the matches.
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