There’s a lot to this story so strap in. It starts with a bit of farmland in the humble village of Molipur, India.
A gang built a cricket pitch on the farm complete with lighting and surrounded by five high-definition cameras. 21 local youngsters and farmworkers then donned some official ‘IPL’ jerseys and hit the pitch for one of the most lucrative backyard cricket games ever.
The crook organisers did everything they could to make the game and broadcast seem legit.
Games were filmed and broadcast to a YouTube channel named ‘IPL’; computer graphics identical to the real league were on screen; crowd noises were downloaded from the internet and played through speakers at the stadium; they even hired an impersonator to mimic the voice of the usual IPL commentator.
The cameras also stayed solely on the pitch for all the games, never grabbing wide shots or player close-ups as that could’ve led to someone sniffing out the con.
The head of the gang behind the fake cricket league sat at a Russian bar infamous for betting and got some gamblers to punt on games. To ensure money was made, umpires were equipped with walkie-talkies and given orders which they passed on to players.
“They signalled bowlers and batsmen to hit a six, four, or get out,” one police inspector told Indian reporters.
What makes this a story for ages is the fact that the real IPL finished about three weeks ago and the fake one managed to make it to the first round of the playoffs before being shut down.
We would’ve loved to see the final of the fake IPL league. Would the youngsters and farmers - who were being paid around NZ$8 for their efforts - have gotten competitive and stopped following the orders of the umps?
Maybe they would have gone for glory instead, and tried to bring an 'IPL' championship back to their family and cement themselves in history.
Imagine hitting the winning runs and knowing somewhere out there a Russian bloke is going crazy because you just put some money in his pocket - the stuff of legends.
Unfortunately, there will be no legacy for the 'players'. The scammers managed to make around NZ$6000 off the Russian punters before being shut down, with four people being arrested.