A fake version of cricket’s Indian Premier League – set up to con gamblers in Russia – has been broken up after police arrested the gang behind it.
The elaborate hoax saw the conmen hire a farmer’s field in Gujarat and set up cameras to film the bogus games.
According to reports, labourers and local unemployed people were hired to masquerade as players and created fake team names, with the players wearing official IPL kits.
The games were then streamed live on YouTube to unsuspecting betting operations in Russia.
The Times of India reported that a local man who could do a good impersonation of commentator Harsha Bhogle was brought in to add authenticity to the footage.
“Crowd noise sound effects downloaded from the internet made the ambiance appear authentic,” the paper reported.
Achal Tyagi, the top police official in the Mehsana district, said four men have been arrested in connection with the hoax.
“They had umpires with walkie-talkie sets to officiate as they have in IPL and international cricket matches,” he said.
“The setup was good enough to trick unsuspecting people into believing it was a genuine cricket league.”
Mr Tyagi said the umpires were telling players whether to score runs or get out depending on the instructions they were given on the walkie-talkie sets received from the organisers, who in turn were receiving instructions from an accomplice in Russia on the Telegram app.
Betting on cricket is illegal in India, and the four arrested have been charged with criminal conspiracy and gambling.
The IPL, the world’s richest T20 league, was embroiled in its own illegal betting scandal in 2013 which led to two-year suspensions for its Chennai and Rajasthan franchises.
The 10-team league’s media rights for the next five years fetched the organising Indian cricket board £5.2bn last month.