The 49th match in IPL 2012 between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings was fixed! There, I said it.
There is nothing else that would have had more impact and would get the point across of what this blog is about than the first line. Yes, the match was fixed. Believe me you. I was right there witnessing the match in action sitting there right from ball one.
Having won tickets through a radio channel who were proud to be associated with a team that boasts of the supposed God of cricket, it comes as a big surprise that God listens to only a couple of people's prayers.
I will tell you how it all began.
I was super excited to be going for a cricket match after a long time and was really looking forward to this game. It promised to be a high-scoring affair with two of the big stars-laden teams in the competition. Both had a point to prove and a long standing rivalry. I was happily cheering the Mumbai bowlers as well as applauding some of the crisp shots by the Chennai batsmen. I am someone who enjoys cricket and is highly passionate about it. I live cricket, I talk cricket. As far as I can remember there hasn't been a day since 1996 when I have slept without having a minimum of 30 mins of cricket in the day for me. Be it in the way of watching it or playing it or reading about it or talking about it. Cricket is, and I am not exaggerating, life for
I was happily enjoying the match sitting at Level 3 of the Sachin Tendulkar stand looking at what seemed like an interesting encounter. Somewhere during the match these two gentlemen came and sat besides me. Before them there were a couple of people who came, sat there for a while and shifted later. That's why when these two guys came I did not pay much heed to it. It was around the 9th or the 10th over that the first guy, whom from now on we will refer to as the 'fixer', spoke to his friend. He casually suggested that Mumbai will be chasing 175 runs for victory. I overheard it and was smiling at his confident prediction. I ignored it as just another fan prediction but did tell my friend about the supposed score! Both of us joked how he is a fixer and is probably telling the right score.
As the first innings got over, somehow Mumbai did manage to restrict CSK to 173 giving them a target of 174. Pretty close, huh! Was our first reaction. But again we rubbished the thought of him being a fixer as it could have been a coincidence. Later, when MI came into bat we suddenly saw him looking at his iPhone every now and then and looking a bit restless. We assumed it was the hunger, the heat and the seating that were causing the restlessness.
He then called up someone and was intensely discussing the game. He would be overjoyed at some occasions and quiet on some. Would stand up and applaud if CSK got a wicket and at the same time would also show some appreciation for the boundaries hit by Mumbai. Since he was wearing a blue t-shirt I assumed his loyalties were for Mumbai. But he could just be wearing a blue t-shirt to play safe or may be did not even think about it.
Anyway, as time passed his actions were getting weirder. He would mimic the IPL tune that the DJs would keep playing. He would cheer on Sachin and ridicule the bowlers when they would get hit.
Here comes the moment of truth: Come the last three overs of the game, Mumbai was losing control of the game. Losing wickets and not scoring runs. This fixer was still smiling. Then he suddenly got a phone call and I tried to overhear him. He repeated what he was hearing,'Kya, is over mein abhi six lagega?' I heard and instantly turned towards my friends to share what I thought could be vital info. Just at that moment, while I was turning to share the news, I saw Dwayne Smith hitting the bowler for a six towards mid-wicket. Me and my friend both jumped for joy and were somehow laughing at how the fixer's prediction came true.
By now we were sure he was involved somehow. Either had bet some money or was talking to some fixer. The overs were passing and his volume lowered. With an over to go and 16 to get off it, some people started leaving the ground. Just then, he stopped this family and said, "Ruk jao yaar, Mumbai Indians jeetega, guaranteed."
Me and my friend we both looked at each other and shared a grin. As we turned around we saw him leaving the ground with a big smirk on his face. Confident as if he had seen it all. Then came the Hilfenhaus over. The man whom the MI guys could not score much off. The man who bowled a toe-crusher to get rid of Malinga of the second ball. With 4 balls left and 15 to get, we had given up. But were hoping that the fixer's prediction comes true. 3 balls to go now and 14 to get, we had by all means given up hope and were staring at yet another defeat for MI. But the fixers had a deal, in comes Hilfenhaus and bowls a full-toss. Smith hits it for a six towards long on, we were jumping in the stands as were the thousand other MI fans. Smith had given us a glimmer of hope. Two balls later, MI had won, Smith had done the unexpected, CSK had lost a game that was theirs for the taking.
The only picture in my head was of the fixer who left with a smirk and a confident around him knowing that the team he had chosen, may be, had won, before the game was complete.
I was shattered, outraged, disgusted. I still am.