Monday, October 23, 2006

Betting with balls in Mohali

Champions Trophy games move to Mohali this week, home of Kapil Dev and a memorable story involving a British punter caught betting online in the press box earlier this year.

During the second Test between England and India in March, a young British 'journalist' sat down in front of myself and the man from Wisden. His laptop was always half-closed although enough to show the Betfair website. I briefly chatted with him at tea being a fairly novice reporter abroad myself; he was shaking and I took it as rookie nerves, not betting ones.

On the second day, we watched as he was escorted out of the press box by stadium officials and into the hands of the television cameras; tipped off by the journalist who reported him in the first place. He attempted to leg it but found a dead end and so the barraging of questions began.

It emerged that he was 22-year-old Rajeev Mulchandani, an Oxford graduate turned professional gambler, who was rumoured to have won £21,000 over three days. After gaining media accreditation and the use of wi-fi access, it meant he was always one step ahead of the bookies.

Just before he was turfed out we put our mobile numbers on a piece of paper, which was circulated among the press box, for a party at the British High Commissioners that night. A genius idea from one Indian journo as it contained Mulchandani's name and number. Calls to his home in London ensued and stories all over the Indian media the next day. Mulchandani - I'll never forget the name.

Click here to read how events unfolded further.