Australia are the clear favourites to win the semifinal clash against India at Sydney on Thursday, with thousands of crores placed in bets across the country before the mouth-watering match, said bookmakers.
Law-enforcement authorities cracked down on bookies before the crucial tie with night-long raids across several cities. But gambling thrived in both the "satta market" and through informal channels as students, businessmen, housewives and professionals placed bets, sources said.
"We are heavily betting on Australia to win the match but some factors such as who wins the toss and decides to bat first will be crucial," said a betting operator in Vadodara.
The high-voltage clash pits Dhoni's men, unbeaten in the tournament so far, against four-time winners Australia. The two powerhouses last faced off in the World Cup in a 2011 quarterfinal where Yuvraj Singh's heroics powered India to victory.
Bookies predicted Australia would score 313 runs if they bat first while the Men in Blue would come up short with just 225. If India bat first, they are expected to score 275 runs.
In Delhi, the ongoing rate for the Aussies is 42 paise and Rs 2.25 for Dhoni's boys. "If Australia wins, the return on every rupee is Rs 1.42 but it is Rs 3.25 for India. Australians are favourites because the match is in Sydney. If it was being played in India, then we would have been the favourites," said a bookie.
Mumbai bookmakers concurred, calling the defending champions the least likely to win the marquee event and offering odds of Rs 1.10 for Australia, Rs 2 for New Zealand and Rs 4.50 for India.
The lower the odds, the higher are the chances of a team winning. So, if one bets Rs 100 on India and they win the World Cup, the person wins Rs 450.
"The rates, however, keep changing and are decided on the day before the match, based on several factors, including injury to any player, weather, pitch conditions, etc.," a bookie said. But once teams enter the semifinal stage, bookmakers do not place bets on individual players.
The thriving underground trade saw multiple raids on Wednesday in Mumbai, Vadodara and Kolkata, where police said they busted a major international betting ring.
But many bookmakers in Mumbai have moved out of the city to beat authorities. "The big bookies have now created a chain, and are linked to a bookmaker operating from the United Kingdom. The minimum amount to open an account in this chain is $500," a bookie said.
In Gujarat, bookies or operators were discreet about declaring rates after an Enforcement Directorate (ED) raid in Vadodara busted a betting racket of Rs 2,000 crore. On the eve of the clash, Bidhannagar Police arrested six people and seized over Rs 35 lakh in cash, along with laptops and cell phones.