Please tell us who really won the toss: Holding
Published: Friday, November 22, 2002, 20:57 [IST]
India wins crucial tie by 3-wkts, squares series
New Delhi: Cricket's anti-corruption investigators must surely know, but the best indication how a series will pan out comes strangely from bookmakers. Many in India's illegal, but thriving gambling industry had predicted even before the first ball was bowled that the One-day series between India and the West Indies will be locked 3-3 going into Sunday's final match. Which is precisely what happened as hosts India snatched a series-levelling win in Thursday's sixth match at Jodhpur to keep the interest alive till the end. "This series has been a bookmaker's dream," said Delhi businessman Rajat Vaid, a self-confessed punter who bets a rupee on every cricket match played anywhere in the world. "The market was certain even before the first One-dayer it would be 3-3 after six matches. I don't know how they knew, but they knew." Former West Indian great, Michael Holding, in his own understated fashion, added fuel to the growing fire of speculation by hinting all may not have been above board. Writing in the 'Hindustan Times', Holding took a swipe at the West Indians for being shot out for 201 in the 47th over at Jodhpur. "It was imperative that the lower order, led by Ridley Jacobs, concentrated on occupying the crease for 50 overs," he wrote. "That could not have been uppermost in their minds, as Jacobs certainly would not have taken a single at the beginning of an over to expose (tailender) Pedro Collins for the next five deliveries. "Those three-and-a-half overs the West Indies missed out on could have given them another 15-20 runs that could have made a big difference. But then again, a win for the Windies would have meant a 'dead' seventh One-dayer at Vijayawada," Holding wrote. Holding, covering the series as a television commentator, even wondered whether India's stand-in captain Rahul Dravid had really won the toss in the crucial tie. "Though the newspapers will record that India won the toss and, as predicted, elected to bat second, could someone please let us know who really won the toss?" Holding wrote at the start of his column. "It is not a well-known fact, but some doubts have been raised over the toss," he wrote, without elaborating. India squeezed out a narrow three-wicket win in the only low scoring game of the series so far despite missing three top players in captain Saurav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar and Zaheer Khan. Cricketers have been under increasing scrutiny ever since the match-fixing scandal broke two years ago and led to life bans on three captains - Mohammad Azharuddin of India, the late Hansie Cronje of South Africa and Salim Mallik of Pakistan. Every dropped catch, run out or a risky stroke is eyed with suspicion, unfairly putting even the innocent players in the dock. It may just be the unpredictable nature of One-day cricket, but the last three series played on Indian soil over the past 12 months have all gone down to the wire. India drew with England 3-3 in January, beat Zimbabwe 3-2 in March and now find themselves locked all square against the West Indies. This against a touring side, minus star batsman Brian Lara, who were thrashed 2-0 in the Test series and given virtually no chance in the One-dayers. Yet, Carl Hooper's men led 2-0, India hit back to make it 2-2, the West Indies again made it 3-2, before India drew level a second time at Jodhpur. Punter Vaid said his bookmaker was still to offer odds on the result at Vijayawada on Sunday.