For all the dazzling moments in the IPLs sixth season,it is the darker images that will endure
It was appropriate that the IPL’s sixth season ended with a farcical award for fair play. On the night that Chennai Super Kings skipper M.S. Dhoni collected it,a man who had wielded the paddle for the team at tournament auctions was in police custody. Cops have alleged that this man,Gurunath Meiyappan,may have passed on information about team composition to bookies,apart from placing large bets on IPL games. The Fair Play table had disappeared from the official tournament website a few days earlier. At the time,Chennai were second on that table,behind Rajasthan Royals,three of whose players had been arrested on spot-fixing charges. One of these players had allegedly bowled a fixed over in a league match against eventual champions Mumbai Indians.
On the surface,the final ended as it always does,with fireworks,confetti and players performing dodgy dance moves before dedicating the victory to Sachin Tendulkar. It has ended perfectly, said the man himself,announcing his retirement from the IPL. But even Tendulkar and the inextinguishable cheeriness of the broadcasters couldnt convince the viewer that everything was hunky dory. The Pune Warriors franchise had pulled out of the tournament. The IPLs title sponsor was reported to be mulling over the same decision. BCCI president N. Srinivasan,defying calls for his resignation,had instituted a committee to decide the future of the Super Kings,owned by his cement company. Two of the three committee members were BCCI functionaries,and therefore answerable to Srinivasan.
If anyone had hoped that the spot-fixing scandal would lead to a thorough cleansing of the system,therefore,they were in for disappointment. The police investigation,moreover,was still on,and cops had hinted that more players might have been involved. And so,a fog of suspicion,rightly or wrongly,hung over even the most dazzling on-field moments of the season: Chris Gayles 175 not out,the fastest-ever century across all cricketing formats; David Millers equally destructive century in a run-chase; Kieron Pollards sixes; Michael Husseys undimmed excellence; James Faulkners unprecedented feat of two five-wicket hauls in the same season; Amit Mishras third IPL hat-trick; and one last time,Rahul Dravids grace under fire. More than all of this,sadly,the abiding image of the season is of a towel tucked into a waistband.