The IPL is back again. As they say on TV these days, “Welcome back!” The Indian Premier League (IPL) comes with its attendant share of controversies. What is dubbed as being amongst the richest, if not THE richest cricket tournament of its kind in the world, has just begun its sixth season. I was crazy about the IPL in the initial years and a huge fan of the Royal Challengers Bangalore.
The main reasons for my supporting this club was that I am from Bangalore so this was the natural choice. Secondly, some of my favourite players like Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble played for this team.
Six years later, I saw the first match that RCB played yesterday with mixed feelings. I was thrilled as a cricket fan at the way they beat the powerful Mumbai Indians. It was a game that swung from one team to another and in the end RCB just about sneaked through with a last ball win. However, unlike in past years I did not see the much touted inaugural ceremony for the first time. Nor did I see the opener between KKR and Delhi Daredevils.
The IPL and controversies seem to go together. Isn’t it funny and strange that Dr. Vijay Mallya spends huge bucks engaging players from all over the world for the RCB, when his employees of the now grounded Kingfisher Airlines agitate outside the stadium saying they haven’t been paid their salaries for months? That Subrata Roy popularly called “Sahara Shree” once the principal sponsor of the Indian cricket team and now the proud owner of the Pune Warriors who has a stadium named after him, is alleged to owe Rs. 24,000 crores, which is a huge amount of money to his investors? That Mr. Srinivasan, the Managing Director of India Cements, who owns Chennai Super Kings is the Big Chief of the BCCI and says there’s no conflict of interest in this. Interestingly, India Cements recently appointed one Mr. M.S.Dhoni as the Vice-President, surely not because he is the skipper of the Chennai Super Kings.More recently, Kolkata erupted in agitation when a student leader died under circumstances which are still not known. Mamata Banerjee the Chief Minister attended the inaugural ceremony of the IPL but ignored the incident the same day when the protesting student supposedly died in police custody not too far away.
There is talk of sleaze and betting and match fixing, but that’s not yet been proved in a court of law. So, let’s not even go there, however tempting it might be to believe at least some of the rumors that dutifully make the rounds every season.
The IPL is a great product, make no mistake about this. It has made kings of paupers, even if I exaggerate a little to make a point and provided employment to thousands including dancers from the Ukraine and wherever else. However, right from the days of Lalit Modi, persistent stories of foreign exchange violations and money laundering continue to abound. The BCCI have done precious little to allay the fears of the public on this score.
The game must go on and it will take its toll, on ordinary people who are suckers for a blend of Bollywood and cricket. It will not affect the super rich of India who will continue to laugh all the way to the bank. Let’s see what IPL Season 6 has to offer!