The Indian Premier League is facing its biggest test yet, with the cash-rich league mired in a spot-fixing scandal with alleged links to betting syndicates and the underworld. However Bollywood actress and co-owner of the Kings XI Punjab franchise Preity Zinta has refused to be bogged down by the controversy and "will always remain smiling".
"The release of my new film (Ishkq In Paris) has taken a backseat as everybody wants to talk about the IPL," said Preity with a laugh in an interview to NDTV. "But it's too early for us (team owners) to make any sort of comments right now."
With investigation into the spotfixing saga getting deeper by the day, the spotlight has now shifted on owners of the franchises. On Tuesday, Pune Warriors India have pulled out of the league and Sahara have decided not to renew their Team India sponsorship agreement with the BCCI as well. Earlier, Rajasthan Royals suspended the contracts of three of its players -- S Sreesanth, Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila -- who were arrested over allegations of spot-fixing.
"We (the owners) are the biggest victims of any controversy. We have done everything for our franchises, including putting in financial investments, and then we look like idiots," added Zinta. "Just because a few people are indulging in such practices, it is wrong to suggest that we owners should have had an inkling of all activities. We should not taint the whole league because of the actions of a few," she added.
"I wouldn't waste my time, effort and the public money conducting countless investigations. I would just conduct polygraph tests on the accused. They are the simplest and the easiest way to find out the truth," Preity offers by way of suggestion.
One thing that's clear is that Perity Zinta has not lost the love for the game of cricket. The pure emotion of joy in victory, and of sorrow in defeat is displayed by her on each occasion that the Kings XI Punjab play. "Winners never quit and quitters never win!" she exclaims. "Why should I quit the IPL? I have done no wrong and that is why I am going to wait and watch for the investigation to end. If there is indeed something wrong with the game and the league the authorities should push matters to find out the truth."
"I would like to know the truth and so would the BCCI," adds Preity. "The IPL is a massive property and the BCCI will not want it to get tainted. We team owners will also implement stronger measures to check corrupt practices. But even as owners are hands are tied, there is just X amount we can do," said the actress, suggesting that there's an unwritten gag order in place.
As the game tends to take a backseat, the findings and revelations around IPL will be something worth tracking.