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Fake IPL Player, 2009: The first great IPL scam

Indian Premier League (IPL) 2009
Abhishek Mukherjee by Abhishek Mukherjee
@ovshake42 5 minute read

The 2009 IPL was a nightmare campaign for the Kolkata Knight Riders. The Fake IPL Player, an anonymous blogger, stirred things up further.

Pen-names are not unheard of in cricket writing. AW Pullin was known more as Old Ebor, Test cricketer Tom Horan used Felix for most of his pieces, and the Andrew Thomas in Great Moments in Cricket is David Frith, no less.

The Fake IPL Player was different, both in stature and nature. The blog did not intend to be serious but stuck to made-up “inside stories” instead. To understand why the focus of the blog on the Knight Riders – coincidentally or otherwise – worked, some information on the season is perhaps necessary.


Kolkata Knight Riders won three of their 14 matches to finish at the bottom of the points table in the 2009 IPL. Given what transpired off the field, anything else would have come as a surprise.

Ahead of the tournament, Coach John Buchanan suggested that the leadership be Brendon McCullum, Chris Gayle, Brad Hodge, and incumbent captain Sourav Ganguly. Eventually, only McCullum led in that season – but the morale of the team had hit an all-time low.

The tournament was played in South Africa. The Kolkata team management sent Aakash Chopra and Sanjay Bangar back home after four matches. Ajay Jadeja, a television expert for the tournament, accused Andy Bichel, a member of the Kolkata support staff, of verbally abusing Ajit Agarkar (“you bloody Indian, you do as you’re told”).

In a nutshell, there was controversy galore. Rumours of rifts inside the camp surfaced. The Fake IPL Player – a name chosen carefully, ahead of Faceless IPL Player – blog thrived off these speculations. The blog featured stories and snippets involving cricketers, and the tone was authentic enough to convince thousands of fans as well as media houses around the world.

The first post (The first match begins: The Fake IPL Player) went up on April 18. The content did not portray the IPL cricketers in great light. Following a lawyer’s advice, the blogger had abstained from using real names of the cricketers, but the nicknames were often too obvious for comfort.

The muddle inside the Kolkata camp led the blogger to focus on them. That, in turn – fuelled by contemporary media – convinced many that the blogger was part of the squad, despite the blog putting up a disclaimer of it being “fictitious” and resemblance to “real persons, living or dead” was coincidental.

Coincidentally, there was little activity on the blog when Bangar and Chopra returned home. Chopra, whose delightful book Beyond the Blues had come out earlier that year, became an immediate ‘suspect’. At another time, Anureet Singh was considered a suspect as well.

The Kolkata Knight Riders camp slammed the blogger (“poison pen of the dirtiest variety, but far too many factual errors”), but were nowhere close to finding their identity. Shah Rukh Khan, co-owner of the franchise, commented that the Fake IPL Player was “obviously very sick, perverted” and was in possession of “far too little information or insight to successfully pretend to be part of us.”

Meanwhile, the popularity of the blog soared, especially after he successfully – again, a coincidence – managed to predict a team selection. According to Pinstorm, a digital marketing firm, the blog attracted 150,000 visitors on April 26; the readers spent 15 minutes on the blog on an average.

Four weeks, 43 posts, and about 17,000 comments later, the blogger – a man – uploaded FIP RIP, a four-minute video of his silhouette. He admitted to being a long-standing fan as well as a somewhat vague “fly on the wall”; he also mentioned that he might write a book, albeit adding that “if I actually write a book, I’ll probably be history – even if my book is not”.

That book, The Gamechangers, focused on a fictitious Indian Bollywood League, and revolved around made-up controversies. It came out during the 2010 IPL, and was more or less well-reviewed. That August, Anupam Mukherji, a marketing expert based out of Bengaluru, admitted to being the Fake IPL Player.

“I only pulled off the hoax because I played with believable stereotypes,” he admitted. He also assured that he had never met a cricketer, and had made up his stories.

It remained the greatest scam in the history of the IPL until a group of non-cricketers organised the entirely made-up Century Hitters T20, a fake version of the original tournament to lure Russian punters.

But that is another story.

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