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IPL suspends controversial mobile phone-based contest

Chennai Super Kings dancers are seen before the start of the 2009 Indian Premier League (IPL) T20 cricket tournament between the Chennai Super Kings and the Delhi Daredevils at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg in this May 2, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

CHENNAI (Reuters) - Indian Premier League (IPL) organisers have suspended a controversial mobile phone-based contest following concerns raised by the country’s sports minister last week that it amounted to gambling.

The IPL, promoted by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and featuring some of the top players in world cricket, had introduced a SMS contest aimed at keeping interest in India alive.

The league, which was a huge commercial success in its inaugural edition in India last year, is being played in South Africa this year as the tournament clashes with India’s general elections.

“There was no formal complaint. Such SMS contests are being played world over,” IPL governing council member Rajeev Shukla told Reuters on Tuesday.

“But it has been closed for now,” he added. He did not say for how long.

Former Indian cricketers had raised serious misgivings about the contest, in which participants have to predict the sequence of runs that will be scored in the next over, saying that it amounted to gambling, which is illegal in India.

Sports Minister Manohar Singh Gill expressed concern that it could also give rise to a fresh bout of corruption in the game.

“We have already had ... a match-fixing scandal in the game,” he said in a strongly worded statement on Saturday, referring to a scandal that broke in India and rocked international cricket in 2000.

“It seems the ICC (International Cricket Council) had expressed concerns about such possibilities in the IPL league,” he added.

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