Controversies galore, off the field

“I would say I've played my last game of cricket just there," Gilchrist said after the match against Delhi Daredevils.-PTI

Like one sledgehammer blow after another, controversies of all kinds have dogged the IPL. By Arun Venugopal.

Anyone who has been hibernating from the whirly whiz of the IPL in the past week has missed out on, well, quite some chunk of unsavoury goings on. The palpable relief that at least this edition of the IPL didn't have any major controversies turned out to be a false dawn even as the league's critics wore a triumphant ‘I told you so' look. Like one sledgehammer blow after another, controversies of all kinds have dogged the IPL in the last week.

That stinging sensation

It's only been a few months since the spot-fixing storm blew over. A sting operation by a TV channel alleged recently that under-the-table dealings and match-fixing were prevalent in the IPL. The channel claimed that an IPL player confessed that he was getting Rs. 1.45 crore from its owner whereas he was in the Rs. 30 lakh slab. It named an IPL player, claiming he had bowled a no-ball in last year's first class match on the insistence of the channel's reporter. He had also assured to change his team in future if he was paid Rs. 60 lakh, the channel said.

Another player demanded Rs. 10 lakh for bowling a no-ball in an IPL match, it said. The BCCI reacted by suspending the five players who were named in the operation — Amit Yadav (Kings XI Punjab), Mohnish Mishra (Pune Warriors India), Abhinav Bali (played for Delhi Giants in the erstwhile Indian Cricket League), T. P. Sudhindra (Deccan Chargers), and Shalabh Srivastava (Kings XI Punjab) — pending the report of that inquiry. Ravi Sawani, former head of the ICC's Anti-corruption and Security Unit, is heading the inquiry.

Madness at midnight

If you thought that was enough negative publicity for cricket and the IPL, you were soon forced to brace yourself for more. Kolkata Knight Riders had earned itself a win over Mumbai Indians in Mumbai and logically the KKR owner must have been celebrating, right? Wrong. Shah Rukh Khan was allegedly involved in an incident with Mumbai Cricket Association's (MCA) security personnel and there was to be no revelry. Soon the ‘sting operation' story was passé.

The MCA banned the actor from entering the Wankhede Stadium for five years. But IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla said the final decision on the ban rested with the BCCI. While the sparring between the conflicting parties continued, people were quick to take sides. MCA Vice-President Ratnakar Shetty said, “I must applaud the MCA for their restraint, or it would have been uglier than it already is.” Support for Shah Rukh came in from, among others, West Bengal's Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. She appealed that the decision to ban Shah Rukh, who is also the brand ambassador of West Bengal, be reconsidered.

The Pomersbach incident

There was more bad news when cricketer Luke Pomersbach of Royal Challengers Bangalore was arrested for allegedly molesting a woman from the United States and allegedly beating up her boyfriend at a five-star hotel in New Delhi. A case was registered under four sections of the Indian Penal Code against the 27-year-old Australian batsman.

Royal Challengers Bangalore owner Vijay Mallya said Pomersbach will not be playing in the remaining games of the IPL. A statement issued by the IPL team said, “The Royal Challengers Bangalore regrets the incident involving Luke Pomersbach. We will ensure full co-operation with the concerned authorities so that a fair investigation takes place and the issue is disposed of in accordance with law. Pending disposal of this matter Luke Pomersbach will not take the field for The Royal Challengers Bangalore.”

Gilly'S final hurrah?

We might have seen the last of Adam Gilchrist on the cricket field when he led the Kings XI side in its last league game against Delhi Daredevils. After his team lost the match and subsequently went out of reckoning for the play-offs, Gilchrist felt that he missed the “fire burning in my belly”.

Rahul Dravid... not sure of his role with Rajasthan Royals in next year's IPL.-R.V. MOORTHY

“I would say I've played my last game of cricket just there," Gilchrist said after the match. “I'll go away and have a think about it and talk to the franchise. I find that I still enjoy being around the group. To be honest I didn't miss the cricket that much.”

“I loved the fact that I could play the last couple of games, but I didn't have the horrible desire that I was missing out. There isn't that fire burning in my belly quite like it used to. I have to think about it but I just feel I won't be playing.”

A day later, Rahul Dravid, said he wasn't sure of his role with Rajasthan Royals in next year's IPL. “It was a pleasure to lead the side. I really don't know (about my future). I will have to think it over. I would take a break and decide about my role. I will talk to my family and also the management of the Rajasthan Royals about my role and then I would decide. My goal is to develop young players.”

CSK'S luck of the Devil

Who would have imagined that Chennai Super Kings would make it to the play-offs, especially after losing convincingly to Kings XI Punjab in Dharamsala. But then a few results went its way: Rajasthan Royals was stunned by Deccan Chargers and then Delhi Daredevils proved its might against the Kings XI side.

But the match that would have given CSK as well its supporters plenty of anxiety was the RCB-Deccan Chargers encounter. Deccan had to win for CSK to make it to the play-offs; a defeat would spell curtains for RCB's title ambitions. As it turned out, Dale Steyn and J-P. Duminy joined hands to end RCB's campaign.

Fellow South African and CSK all-rounder Albie Morkel posted thus on twitter after the match: “@DaleSteyn62. Hooooooooollllliiiiiioooooo.”

Even the normally unflappable Stephen Fleming admitted to nervousness: “Tough watching the RCB chase. Bags packed and then unpacked and then packed again, emotional roller coaster!”

Deccan Chargers coach Darren Lehmann used the opportunity to ask Fleming to treat him: “@SPFleming7 you can pay for a lot more than that champion , when in Brisbane you are taking me to aria in eagle st with good wine pal!"