The Indian Premier League (IPL), having taken cricket by storm in 2008, has become a true benchmark for T20s over this decade. The controversies that have broken out in the IPL, perhaps consequently, have also shaken up the world of cricket.
A look at the major controversies in the showpiece tournament since 2010:
2010 – Lalit Modi sacked
Lalit Modi, under whose initiative the IPL took off in 2008, could seemingly do no wrong till a certain point of time. Trouble started in 2010 when Modi was served three show-cause notices, which accused him of breaching confidentiality agreements, alleged financial irregularities in broadcast deals and rigging auctions. The downfall from being the board’s blue-eyed boy to villain was swift.
Soon after the 2010 IPL season, Modi was sacked from his post as IPL commissioner. By September, Modi had gone to England, citing threats to his family’s safety in India.
2011 – Kochi Tuskers terminated
Kochi Tuskers Kerala, one of the new additions to the IPL in 2011, had a very short-lived unglamorous tenure in the league. They were one of the teams added to the competition for IPL 2011, but were terminated later the same year for their failure to produce the bank guarantee needed to cover their annual fee for 2012.
The inception of the franchise was also shrouded in controversy. Shashi Tharoor was accused of using his ministerial clout to obtain a stake in the franchise through his late wife Sunanda Pushkar. Tharoor was forced to resign as Minister of State for External Affairs over this issue.
2011 – Cheerleader’s blog
Gabriella Pasqualotto, one of the cheerleaders employed by Mumbai Indians in the 2011 IPL, started a mini-storm after she alleged bad treatment meted out to professionals like her in the IPL through a blog on the internet.
“We are practically like walking porn. These cricketers are the most loose and mischievous I have come across,” she wrote. She also named specific cricketers who behaved inappropriately, adding that Indians like MS Dhoni and Rohit Sharma are “very polite and keep to themselves in the dark corners.”
South African media reported that Pasqualotto’s blog created privacy concerns for some players, with Graeme Smith having been named as one of the players with having indulged in questionable behaviour off the field. Mumbai Indians terminated her contract midway through the league.
2012 – Spot fixing
The first major incident of spot-fixing hit the IPL in the 2012 season. Mohnish Mishra, a Pune Warriors India player for the season, was caught admitting on tape in a sting operation that franchises pay black money.
In May that year, four other players – TP Sudhindra (Deccan Chargers), Amit Yadav, Shalabh Srivastava (Kings XI Punjab) and Abhinav Bali, Delhi cricketer, were named in the sting operation to have been involved in spot fixing. All five players were suspended by IPL president Rajeev Shukla.
2012 – Shah Rukh Khan gets banned from Wankhede
Kolkata Knight Riders co-owner Shah Rukh Khan was banned from the Wankhede, the home ground of Mumbai Indians, for five years after the Bollywood superstar was caught in a brawl with security officials at the ground after an IPL match.
Just after KKR had won their match against the Mumbai Indians, Shah Rukh Khan’s children and their friends were seen entering the ground. When the security person attempted to drive them away, an incensed Shah Rukh stepped in and got into a fight.
2013 – Spot fixing strikes again
Spot fixing rocked the IPL in 2013 once more, and this time, it left some famous victims in its wake. India cricketer Sreesanth would never get to play for the nation again. Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals, two of the most successful teams in the league, were later to be banned from the league for two years.
Delhi Police arrested three cricketers of the Rajasthan team – Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan, on charges of alleged spot-fixing in 2013.
Mumbai Police arrested Vindu Dara Singh and Gurunath Meiyappan, the son-in-law of Chennai’s owner and now-ousted former BCCI president N Srinivasan, for alleged betting and having links with bookies.
The Supreme Court suspended Rajasthan and Chennai for two years in 2015 and neither team were part of the 2016 and 2017 IPL tournaments.
2017 – Pollard lashes out at Manjrekar
The administrative issues plaguing the league in the initial years seem to have been creased out in recent years, and the focus has shifted to clashes on and off the field. The confrontation between Kieron Pollard and Mitchell Starc in 2014, which ended with the batsman almost throwing his bat at the bowler, Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli’s spats through several seasons, were some of the more controversial on-field fights seen in the league.
However, Pollard took things to another level when he lashed out at commentator Sanjay Manjrekar for comments made on him. Pollard took exception to Manjrekar saying that he lacked the ‘brains’ to bat in the top order. ‘Verbal diarrhea!’ Pollard laid into Manjrekar in a series of social media posts, with several West Indies players backing him.
The tension between Manjrekar and Pollard exists to this day, with the commentator being seen in recent years measuring his words at post-match presentation ceremonies when the West Indies cricketer is present.
2019 – Mankading
Ravichandran Ashwin was responsible for turning the spotlight on ‘Mankading’ – a perfectly valid but rare mode of dismissal where the bowler runs out the non-striker if he leaves his crease before the ball is delivered – in the 2019 IPL. The India spinner, who was leading Kings XI Punjab, effected the dismissal against Rajasthan Royals’ Jos Buttler, with the latter threatening to take the game away from KXIP’s grasp.
Buttler was bemused at what Ashwin had done, and social media would be divided radically on where who stood over the dismissal. Buttler said that it had been ‘unsportsmanlike’ of Ashwin to effect the dismissal without warning him first. Ashwin stuck to his guns, saying that batsmen do not warn bowlers before the hit unorthodox shots.
There was no doubt among analysts and fans, however, that Ashwin had operated perfectly within the rules of the game and some suggested that the name of the ‘Mankading’ dismissal be changed to ‘running out the non-striker’.
2019 – Dhoni entering pitch
Disputes between players and umpires have been seen in cricket over the years, and the IPL has been no stranger to it either. However, the 2019 IPL saw something not usually seen – CSK captain MS Dhoni, who had been dismissed and was back in the pavilion, stepped into the field to intervene in the last passage of play in a tense match against Rajasthan Royals.
Leg umpire Bruce Oxenford changed umpire Ulhas Gandhe’s decision to signal a no ball with CSK needing 8 runs from 3 balls to win. With confusion reigning supreme as Ravindra Jadeja gestured angrily at the umpires for the change in decision, Dhoni walked into the playing area to talk to the umpires and was pictured gesticulating about the original call, as the Jaipur crowd went wild at the unfolding melodrama.
Dhoni was fined 50% of his match fees and was condemned widely for setting a bad precedent.
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