The IPL has been cricket’s biggest money spinner since its inception in 2008. Never since the Kerry Packer days have cricket fans seen a more colourful and enthralling extravaganza in the sport.
Going by its sheer magnitude and the euphoria around it, it is perhaps not very surprising that the IPL has seen its fair share of controversies over the seasons. From slaps to match-fixing to player and team bans, we have seen it all, haven’t we?
Let’s take a look at 5 of the biggest controversies that have been rocked the IPL since 2008:
#5 The slap-gate: Harbhajan slaps Sreesanth
At the end of the Mumbai Indians’ third match of IPL 2008, Harbhajan Singh slapped fast bowler Sreesanth when the players were shaking hands. As per a video footage, it appeared that Harbhajan slapped Sreesanth without any provocation. He shook hands with two players before Sreesanth’s turn came, and then instead of shaking hands with him, he slapped him and moved ahead to shake hands with other players.
Harbhajan was banned for the rest of IPL 2008 as a result, and also fined 100% of his match fees. MI coach Lalchand Rajput was also fined 50% of his fee for not doing anything to stop Harbhajan despite being right behind him in the line.
It was the first of many controversies in the IPL, and though the players hugged and made up after the match and Harbhajan didn’t appeal against the ban, the scars of the incident remain; in the minds of fans at least!
#4 Shah Rukh Khan gets banned by the Mumbai Cricket Association
After the match between KKR and MI at the Wankhede Stadium on May 16, 2012, Bollywood superstar and the owner of the KKR franchise, Shah Rukh Khan, allegedly got into a scuffle with the security guards.
While the MCA said that Shah Rukh Khan was trying to walk onto the field of play after the match was over - in which his team KKR beat the MI - and was reportedly drunk and abusive. The KKR owner said that he had not been to the match and had only gone to pick up his children and their group of friends who were at the stadium after the match was over.
As per Khan, he saw the security guards manhandling the kids and when he intervened, a group of officials came over and used abusive language, leading to the altercation.
Shah Rukh was banned for 5 years from attending any match at the Wankhede Stadium, be it domestic or international. Although the IPL chairman, Rajiv Shukla, said that the ban wasn’t final until the BCCI had its say on it, the ban did actually remain and fans didn’t see the star actor attending matches at the stadium from the next season.
#3 Lalit Modi expelled from the BCCI
The IPL was Lalit Modi’s brainchild. This is something we all know and there isn’t any doubt that he deserves credit for starting such a league in India that has since become a model for many other sports like Football, Hockey, Tennis, Badminton and Kabaddi to follow in the footsteps of the IPL in India
But the fact that some of his dealings in the IPL were fishy and questionable is also something that can’t be denied. In April 2010, via tweets, Modi accused the Indian foreign affairs minister in the Congress government at the time, Shashi Tharoor, of facilitating the Kochi Tuskers Kerala franchise’s bids and also accused him of conflict of interest. One thing led to another and on the finals day of IPL 2010, just minutes before the match, Lalit Modi was removed from the position of IPL Commissioner.
The BCCI set up a special disciplinary committee to look into the matter and it was also found later that Modi was guilty of rigging bids in the IPL. Most prominent was the signing of Andrew Flintoff in the 2009 season where Modi allegedly stopped Rajasthan Royals from bidding for him and ensured his services went to the Chennai.
The saga finally ended with Lalit Modi being expelled by the BCCI in 2013 which meant that he couldn’t return to the fold in any capacity and can’t compete for any position in the BCCI. This entire Lalit Modi controversy was one of the biggest to have ever hit the league.
#2 Rajasthan Royals’ players banned for fixing
In IPL 2013, after a match against the Mumbai Indians on May 16, three players from Rajasthan Royals – Sreesanth, Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila were arrested by Delhi Police for allegedly fulfilling the promises made to bookies which included Sreesanth agreeing to concede 14 runs in an over (in which he ended up conceding 13).
It was alleged that Sreesanth made a signal by asking for a towel before an over, which hinted to the bookies that this was going to be “the” fixed over and he would concede 14 runs in it.
The allegations and arrests led to the Royals suspending all three players and the BCCI setting up an inquiry headed by Mr. Ravi Savani. The matter was probed further and in September 2013, Sreesanth was banned for life by the BCCI along with his teammate Ankeet Chavan. Other players involved in the matter were also punished. Former Royals cricketer Amit Singh got a 5-year ban, and fast bowler Siddharth Trivedi was suspended for one year for failing to report an approach by a bookie.
Cricketers involved in fixing matches was a huge storm that hit the IPL and led to questions being raised on its credibility. The BCCI has since taken strong steps to ensure that the league remains corruption-free but this match-fixing saga surely left a bad taste in the mouths of loyal franchise supporters.
#1 CSK and RR banned for 2 years each
The can of worms opened by the match-fixing scandal in 2013 led to high-level investigations by the anti-corruption unit of the BCCI. It was alleged that Gurunath Meiyappan, a so-called “Cricket Enthusiast” and nothing more, as per his father-in-law and India Cements owner, N. Srinivasan, was involved in betting on matches involving CSK and he at times, bet in matches involving his own team.
He was also accused of divulging inside information to Vindoo Dara Singh; the kind of information that can seriously help one bet on matches.
Raj Kundra, a UK-based businessman and stakeholder in the Rajasthan Royals franchise, was also found guilty of betting on matches, a charge which he accepted but said that being from UK, he didn’t know that betting on matches was illegal in India.
Meiyappan was arrested for his offence and the whole chapter led to the two franchises being banned in July 2015 for 2 years, meaning that CSK and RR can’t play in the IPL in 2016 and 2017.
The two teams will be back in 2018 when the first 10-year cycle of the IPL ends and a mega auction will take place.