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IPL: 5 seasons, endless controversies

Bribery and molestation, star tantrums and rave parties, yet growing crowds - this year's Indian Premier League is proving there is no such thing as bad publicity.

india Updated: May 23, 2012 12:29 IST
ipl,indian premier league,ipl 2012

Bribery and molestation, star tantrums and rave parties, yet growing crowds - this year's Indian Premier League is proving there is no such thing as bad publicity.

Full stadiums have been a welcome sight after sparse attendances last year due to a post-World Cup hangover. Refreshed and ready for cricket, fans have also been digesting news of a string of off-field controversies.

Such off-field issues are nothing new for the IPL, whose founder chairman Lalit Modi remains in self-imposed exile after being slapped with cases of financial irregularities and whose governing council has had skirmishes with at least four of its own franchises.

Just as fans were raving about a number of close games came a TV sting operation that showed IPL players agreeing to spot fixing and raising murmurs about those last-over finishes being possibly contrived.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) was quick to provisionally suspend five uncapped players after they were shown by India TV news channel as either agreeing to spot-fixing or negotiating on their contracts, which is not allowed as per tournament rules.

TP Sudhindra, Shalabh Srivastava, Mohnish Mishra, Amit Yadav and Abhinav Bali were suspended and an inquiry ordered.

Sudhindra, who plays for Deccan Chargers, was shown allegedly agreeing to and then bowling a no-ball at a predetermined time in a local T20 game in Indore.

The channel also played a purported telephone conversation with Srivastava of the Kings XI Punjab team agreeing to bowl a no-ball in the IPL. Srivastava, however, did not play in the tournament this season.

The others were seen talking about their IPL contracts and how under-the-table payments are used to entice players to franchises.

The expose gave sports minister Ajay Maken a chance to reiterate his call for the BCCI to be brought under the ambit of Right to Information Act. Currently the BCCI is not accountable since it is not government funded.

"The BCCI performs a public function, that is the selection of the Indian team," Maken said.

"This team plays under the aegis of the Indian flag. This is the Indian team. That is why the body that chooses the team needs to be transparent to the people."

The bribery allegations were followed by a string of off-field controversies that ended in police stations.

Kolkata Knight Riders team co-owner Shahrukh Khan was involved in a brawl with officials at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium.

Mumbai Cricket Association and police officials alleged Khan confronted guards while under the influence of alcohol.

The Bollywood star claimed he was not drunk and had only reacted to rude behavior to kids near the boundary line.

Other more serious controversies were round the corner.

Australian batsman Luke Pomersbach made headlines without playing a game for Royal Challengers Bangalore this season.

He was arrested and subsequently released on bail for allegedly molesting a US woman of Indian origin and assaulting her fiance at a New Delhi five-star hotel. Pomersbach was required to surrender his passport pending investigation of the case.

Cricket officials were quick to wash their hands off the incident which is being investigated by police.

"There were no official parties in IPL 4 and 5. So the incident was not connected with an official IPL party. It was an individual misbehavior of an individual player," IPL chief Rajiv Shukla told reporters.

"It is a police case and we will wait for the police report."

Two Pune Warriors players, Rahul Sharma and South African Wayne Parnell, were also in hot water for attending a partythat was busted for drugs.

Their blood and urine samples were taken along with those of over 80 others after a police party found cocaine in the rave party.

Once again, IPL officials said they had no comment to offer pending investigation.

But former India player Kirti Azad, who has raised the IPL controversies debate in Parliament, wonders how everything goes wrong only when the Twenty20 tournament is on.

"I'm not against the IPL but the way it is run," said Azad, a member of the 1983 World Cup winning team.

"There is no transparency, accountability or discipline. Why doesn't all this indiscipline happen in test, one-day or domestic cricket matches?"

While organisers will be hoping the IPL ends with focus on the game and people remember the big-hitting from Chris Gayle and the incisive bowling of Morne Morkel, these controversies are bound to remain in the news well after the tournament is over.

First Published: May 23, 2012 11:45 IST