Cheergirls gesture during the IPL-5 match between Deccan Chargers and Delhi Daredevils in Hyderabad. (PTI Photo)
Dogged by myriads of controversies but glamorous nonetheless, the sixth edition of the Indian Premier League will kick off on Tuesday with what promises to be a glitzy opening ceremony featuring Bollywood stars and international rapper Pitbull.
Flying drummers, Chinese percussionists, fireworks and some of the biggest film stars in the country, including Shah Rukh Khan and Katrina Kaif, will perform at the ceremony at the Salt Lake Stadium.
Never before in cricket has any private tournament been as successful as the IPL and it is expected to be a rollicking affair once again when the nine franchises lock horns for the coveted title.
However, since its inception in 2008, IPL has been known as much for its sporting and glamour quotient as for its controversies. This year's ban on Sri Lankans from playing in Chennai is only a continuation of that trend.
The latest controversy to hit the tourney is the ban on the cricketers from the island nation from playing in Chennai after Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa insisted that the matches can be played in the southern metropolis only if there were no players or team officials from the Emerald Island.
Jayalalithaa's diktat comes in the wake of the growing unrest in Tamil Nadu over the atrocities against ethnic Tamils in Sri Lanka during the civil war against Tamil Tigers that ended in 2009.
The IPL's unilateral decision did not go down well with the team owners and now the franchises with a strong Sri Lankan presence are slowly building up pressure on the IPL governing council to shift their play-off and knockout matches out of Chennai. The franchises' contention - IPL will be robbed of good competition and it will be a win-win situation for Chennai Super Kings if they are allowed to get away with it.
Continuing the controversy trail, the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) have affirmed this year too, the five-year ban on Kolkata Knight Riders' co-owner and actor Shah Rukh Khan following an ugly spat with MCA officials after his team's win over Mumbai Indians last year.
The actor allegedly manhandled security and hurled abuses at them in an inebriated state after being barred from entering the ground.
As if the Khan brawl wasn't enough, IPL 2012 hit the headlines the very next day when Royal Challengers Bangalore's Luke Pomersbach was arrested for allegedly molesting an Indian-American woman. The Australian batsman was said to have misbehaved with the woman after drinking with her in a room.
The saga of drunken brawls continued this year also, albeit outside the country when Delhi Daredevils' Kiwi import Jesse Ryder sunk into coma after being assaulted outside a bar in Christchurch. Ryder though, has recovered and is undergoing treatment for a smashed skull and punctured lung.
Now characterised by three Cs - cash, cricket and controversies - the IPL has hogged the limelight for the wrong reasons, be it allegations of match-fixing or cricketers slapping each other or the unceremonious sacking of its creator Lalit Modi. Former IPL commissioner Modi saw the dice turn against him in 2010 when he was sacked following charges of financial irregularities. He left the country for London and has stayed there since.
The inaugural edition of the cricketing jamboree will perhaps be remembered more for the 'slapgate' involving Kings XI Punjab pacer S Sreesanth and Mumbai Indians' offie Harbhajan Singh.
The video footage - the pacer sobbing and his teammates consoling him - became one of the long-lasting images of the opening edition. As a fallout, Harbhajan was suspended for the remaining 11 matches.
Also, match-fixing allegations surfaced last year after a sting operation conducted by a news channel claimed to have uncovered shady deals between team owners, players and management.
As if the banning of players, team owners and official was not enough, the IPL in 2011 got rid of a franchise - Kochi Tuskers Kerala - to end its turbulent one-year stint which also saw a minister quitting the union cabinet after allegations of his involvement in the side's entry into the league.
The sleazier side of the IPL came to the fore during the after-parties, as the celebrities and Page 3 people joined cricketers with food, wine and revelry flowing freely, to say nothing of rave parties.
But the sleazy affair was discontinued after South African cheerleader Gabriella Pasqualotto, in her tell-all blog, described cheergirls as "walking porn" and certain cricketers as "naughty".
(With inputs from IANS and PTI)