Indian Premier League: Top five controversies ahead of Edition No. 7
In the wake of the match-fixing and betting scandal in Indian Premier League 2013, the lead-up to this year's tournament has been quite eventful. BCCI's lawyers continue to work overtime at Supreme Court even as players sweat it out at the nets to grab honours on the field.
The seventh edition of the Indian Premier League starts in the United Arab Emirates on April 16. In the run up to the cash-rich T20 championship that involves some of the world's most entertaining cricketers, there have been several controversies. Here's a look back at the top five controversies ahead of the tournament.
N. SRINIVASAN REPLACED AS BCCI HEAD
In a stunning decision on March 28, the Supreme Court suspended N. Srinivasan as BCCI president. In the wake of the IPL match-fixing and betting scandal, where Srinivasan's son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan is facing serious charges of corruption, Srinivasan's position became untenable. Supreme Court appointed former Indian captain Sunil Gavaskar as BCCI president (IPL affairs) and asked former Test off-spinner and South Zone vice-president Shivlal Yadav to handle non-IPL matters of the Board.
NO CLARITY ON ROLE OF IPL CEO SUNDAR RAMAN
Sundar Raman, the man who ran the IPL since its inception in 2008 is also under the scanner for his alleged links with Srinivasan, Meiyappan and Chennai Super Kings. Raman's name figures in a Mumbai Police report given to the Supreme Court-appointed probe panel that was headed by retired judge Justice Mukul Mudgal. Raman has allegations of passing insider information which clearly aided and abetted betting in IPL 2013. The Supreme Court has left it to interim president Gavaskar to decide Raman's future.
JAIPUR IGNORED AS 'HOME" VENUE FOR RAJASTHAN ROYALS
Over six seasons of the IPL, the Sawai Mansingh stadium became a fortress for the Rajasthan Royals. This season however Jaipur will not be hosting a single match. According to the BCCI, the RCA failed to acquire requisite state government clearances. But no one from the BCCI has commented on whether this decision has anything with Lalit Modi apparently winning the RCA elections and waiting for the Supreme Court's clearance to take over as the next Rajasthan cricket boss. Ahmedabad will be the 'home' venue for the Royals this season.
ONCE HUB OF FIXING, SHARJAH ONE OF THREE UAE VENUES
With the UAE hosting the 1st leg of IPL matches, many questioned how Sharjah, once the hub of match-fixing activities, could be a venue. The Sports Ministry has asked BCCI as to why a "non-regular" venue, that was blacklisted in 2000 by the government after the Hansie Cronje fixing incident should host IPL matches. The BCCI defended its decision saying it had carried out extensive recce of all the venues in UAE before taking a final decision. The BCCI has also apparently been given an assurance by the authorities in the UAE that all efforts will be made to keep each and every match 'clean'.
BIDDING 'WAR' BETWEEN KKR AND RCB OVER YUVRAJ SINGH
The auctioneer in the February IPL auction failed to notice KKR's raised paddle when Yuvraj Singh was being auctioned. The Royal Challengers Bangalore had already bid 10 crore for the left-hander after a bidding war with Kings XI Punjab. The auctioneer had brought down his gavel, selling Yuvi to RCB but KKR's 'sudden' entry meant Vijay Mallya and his team had to continue bidding. Bangalore ended up paying 4 crore more in the end, eventually buying Yuvraj for a whopping 14 crore.
Will Yuvraj be worth the price? Is this the end of Sundar Raman? Can Sharjah exorcise its tainted past and will Srinivasan ever head BCCI again? Cricket, on and off the pitch, will be interesting to follow.