By Denzil Fernandes
Daijiworld Media Network
May 21: The Indian Premier League (IPL) is into its 5th edition and is in the final stages. What’s wrong with IPL 5 one may ask ? Nothing say some and something wrong say others. But at the end of the day, no one is sure where IPL is heading.
Without doubt, IPL is one of the most lucrative and prestigious cricket leagues in the world where some of the finest international cricketers vie for places in the respective franchise teams.
Interestingly, some of the national team members play against each other for various Indian sides that are filled with local talent as well. For example, if Sri Lanka’s Dilshan plays for Royal Challengers of Bangalore, his national captain Jayawardene plays for Delhi Daredevils while former captain Sangakkara plays for Deccan Chargers. Likewise, there are so many other players from teams like Australia, South Africa etc. playing for different sides. There are top players like Gayle (West Indies), Clarke (Australia), Pietersen (England), Jayawardene (Sri Lanka), Sangakkara (Sri Lanka), Morkel (South Africa), Kallis (South Africa), Ross Taylor (New Zealand), Hussey brothers (Australia) and so many others all turning out for various sides in the IPL.
IPL is not only cricket action on the field but also plenty of glamour off the field. Most of the teams are owned by wealthy industrialists, businessmen and Hollywood stars and therefore one can see the rivalry spilling on to the stands and the ground as well. While most of the matches are well played and results accepted by the owners, this year’s tournament has seen many eyebrows raised for reasons other than cricket as well.
The after match IPL parties were a big hit in the past which were the talk of the town wherever they took place after the daily matches. There was fashion, beauty, glamour, cheerleaders and all the glitz apart from the high flowing spirits which were more than abundant on the night. After the huge and cry of these parties, the current IPL management decided to do away with the parties. But if one believes what one hears and reads, the parties have continued even if ‘unofficially’.
There have been instances of team owners revelling in their team’s wins and going crazy after the matches. Eminent men like Vijay Mallya and Siddarth Mallya from the Royal Challnegers Bangalore, the Ambani family, Preity Zinta of bollywood fame, and so many others like them for various teams. But one who took the cake with his alleged bursts of violence was ‘King’ Shah Rukh Khan (SRK) when his team Kolkatta Knight Riders beat Mumbai Indians in Mumbai on Wednesday night last.
According to reports, SRK is said to have been rude with some of the Mumbai officials and even disrespectful to one of the elderly security officers. He in turn has accused the Mumbai Cricket Associaation officials of having misbehaved with some of the girls including his daughter who was manhandled it is said. In any case, the management of Mumbai Cricket Associaation (MCA) have now barred SRK from entering the Wankhede Stadium for the next 5 years. The IPL Management is in a fix since he is the owner of the Kolkatta side. More juicy episodes are expected in the coming days once the IPL meets and decides what can be done to bring peace. Meanwhile, SRK is said to have been unapologetic and justified his actions.
Likewise, one also heard that former Karnataka pacer Venkatesh Prasad’s wife showing off in the ‘no entry’ area in front of the security officers earlier in the month when Royal Challengers Bangalore played at their home ground. Even players have displayed unbelievable aggression after the matches at some times. The spat between Ambati Rayudu of Mumbai Indians and Patel of Royal Challengers, Bangalore would have been worse and far more violent if the other players had not intervened. With needle tight finishes in some crucial matches, the excitement has gone over board and the spectators have witnessed some sad scenes unfortunately.
The IPL is never short of heady stuff at all. One fine day some one will surely make a bollywood thriller with a cricketer taking the main lead. One heard about the match fixing episode where the IPL management banned some players all in a jiffy and tried to cool things down. The sting operation by a newspaper was hot stuff when it appeared but has now cooled off quite unbelievably. Although a few stories are floating around, IPL commissioner Rajiv Shukla seemed to have quickly acted and doused the fire.
Just when things were looking quiet, Aussie cricketer Luke Pommersbach of Royal Challengers Bangalore was picked up and arrested on friday by the Delhi police for an alleged rape attempt on an American woman at a top hotel. Luke is also charged with beating up the woman’s fiancé. While both the player and the team management have their own stories to tell, the episode adds up another page in this year’s IPL’s soap opera. Luke has been with the Bangalore team this year but is yet to play in this year’s IPL. He is a active cricketer back home in Australia and is said to have been involved in a couple of incidents there including drink driving, missing practice and booze bash as well. He played for Mumbai in the first IPL season and later for Punjab. Young Siddarth Mallya however has defended his team’s player.
The show goes on and very soon the winner will be running away with the trophy and the prize money. While Delhi Daredevils are looking good and relaxed, Royal Challengers of Bangalore also seem to hold plenty of ammunition to win. One cannot underestimate Dhoni’s Chennai Superkings and SRK’s Kolkatta Knight Riders. The race is fierce and tight and every result is now making the captains as well as the owners tense and restless.
One hopes that there will be no more controversies till the IPL is over. IPL commissioner Rajiv Shukla cannot sit pretty even after the conclusion of the tournament. He has to take stock and put into practice a ‘no nonsense’ code of behaviour for all the future owners including past cricketers who seem to take advantage of their position against the poor officials and security personnel. Whoever it is, Rajiv has to show his impartial decision although he may find it hard in view of his ‘first class’ connections with the IPL owners. It is high time that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) pulled up the IPL management for such bad publicity for the top tourney. They may swell their coffers with dollars plenty due to the commercial success of IPL. But the BCCI also have a moral responsibility to see that all is well at the end of the day. The name of Indian cricket should not be tarnished.
Keep following the IPL because you should not be surprised if there are more stories coming out in the middle before the final is over.