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|May 5, 1999||
Bookies pick Pak for title
They are visible only to those whom they trust, as they had gone "underground" ever since the match fixing scandals hit the headlines.
But with cricket's most glamorous and competetive event, the World Cup, just nine days away, the Chennai bookies are already active accepting odds on "peti" (paise basis).
Oddly enough, everybody's favourites, South Africa, figure seventh in the order of "petis". And it is Pakistan that the Chennai bookie is backing to win the title. Interestingly, India is also proving a popular bet with punters.
But different bookies, mainly operating in North Chennai and Kilpauk areas, who take the "petis" in strict anonymity, offer different rates. The "petis" keep changing as the Cup nears.
Right now, the "petis" in favour of Pakistan is 27-30 paise per rupee. For the second favourite Australia, it is 30-35 paise.
The Lankans come third, at 50 paise, followed by England at 75 paise, West Indies on par at one rupee, New Zealand at Rs 1.23 and South Africa at three rupees, Zimbabwe at Rs 3.80, minnows Bangladesh at Rs 9 and Kenya and Scotland both over Rs 15.
In England, however, South Africa remain favourites, at an overwhelming 3-1, followed by Australia at 7-2. Interestingly, India is suddenly being tipped as the dark horse contender, with odds-makers backing Azharuddin's team to make the semifinals alongside Pakistan, South Africa and Pakistan.
Individual ratings, by bookmakers such as William Hill, are equally interesting. Sachin Tendulkar is being unanimously rated as the batsman to top the standings at the end of the competition. Shaun Pollock is being tipped as the bowler to watch and, interestingly, Anil Kumble goes in with 40-1 in his name, as the most likely to top the wicket-taker's table.
An even more interesting pick by the bookies is Ricky Ponting -- who is slated to be the fielder of the tournament, ahead of the likes of Jonty Rhodes and Herschelle Gibbs.
And the team to win the Cup? Australia, say English bookies.
Rediff with agencies
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