The IPL has hogged headlines ever since the show kicked off in Bangalore on April 18. With the count of sixes hit and wickets taken translating into amazing numbers, the bag of controversies too is bulging. Call them inevitable offshoots of a unique event or simply different strokes, these happenings beyond the boundary have been in a league of their own. Heading into the final phase, here’s a recap.
Brendon McCullum's fireworks in the opening game against Bangalore raised expectations of another run riot when Kolkata played their first match at home. There were big-hitters in Hyderabad too, but the pitch turned out to be a disaster. It was dry and brittle, reducing batting to a fight for survival. It was by far the most dangerous track seen in India for a ‘big’ match in recent memory. An ensuing blackout stopped proceedings for half-an-hour, plunging the venue into semi-darkness and shame. It was discovered that cables had been stolen from under the nose of the security hounds and CAB president Prasun Mukherjee smelt “sabotage” .On May 18, some of the bulbs in the floodlight towers again stopped functioning, leading to another stoppage before rain intervened.
Slap and ban
The competition was just about a week old and things were showing signs of calming down when Harbhajan Singh decided it was time to show that his arm was not all about off-spin. The slap, images of Sreesanth in tears and the subsequent ban on Harbhajan made sure the incident remained the most talked about issue for days. It proved to be quite an expensive momentary lapse of reason for it cost the volatile spinner in excess of Rs 3 crore by way of match fees.
Unlike the majority, a group of politicians in Maharashtra found the cheerleaders in attractive attires objectionable. So instead of keeping an eye on strike rates and economy rates, people debated how little is too little sartorially. Thankfully, it didn’t linger for long and the girls kept swaying along the boundary lines in all the eight venues with a stricture in certain places that they must not reveal much.
Warne vs Ganguly
Sourav Ganguly is not famous for bonhomie with Australian captains. He had annoyed Steve Waugh by keeping him waiting for the toss during the 2001 home series. Waugh had later expressed his feelings in some terse words. After warning Ganguly that his side would roast Kolkata in Jaipur's heat, Shane Warne was kept waiting in the heat as Ganguly was late in turning up for the toss and also while leading his men into the field. The way Ganguly got the umpire to refer a catch to the third umpire didn't go down well with Warne and it became evident in his post-match outburst. Both players got away with nominal fines but the poor umpire got a one-match ban.
Boss is always right
Bangalore’s titanic failure had to ruffle feathers because it was one of the most expensive teams. So when owner Vijay Mallya started taking stock, team CEO Charu Sharma lost his job amidst rumours that more heads might roll. That hasn’t happened yet, although whispers haven't stopped. Mallya made it clear in no uncertain terms that he didn't buy players of his choice at the behest of the CEO and captain Rahul Dravid. We mayn’t have heard the last on that yet.
Tagore in T20
This was the last name that could have been involved with the T20 carnival. But thanks to die-hard Rabindranath Tagore fans in the West Bengal ministry, the birthday of the bard was observed on one of the match days at the Eden Gardens. So there was Rabindra Sangeet packed in between the techno numbers. If somebody cringed or cried at that it got drowned because the heavens opened up.
Curiously, the Kolkata team continues to be one of the talking points. After Shah Rukh Khan’s presence in the dugout and dressing room raised eyebrows, the BCCI clarified that ICC rules barred the actor from entering those areas. Interestingly, ICC officials said they had no problem. It became clear that this was BCCI's baby and the team owners were free birds. Welcome everywhere.