The 6th edition of Cricket's Indian Premier League (IPL) has come to a close, leaving fans distraught over scandal and the resignation of star Sachin Tendulkar, whose team was finally able to take home the gold.
The IPL since its inception in 2008 has been marred by controversies, but none has been as grave as the ongoing investigation into spot fixing and illegal betting around IPL matches. The recent investigations have raised serious questions about the integrity of the league and the sport as a whole.
Rumors about spot fixing and even match fixing have been around since the beginning of the IPL. But never have the rumors been proven to be true - until now.
Spot fixing in cricket is known as the manipulation of a particular ball or wicket in a match, which is then bet upon. Betting on sports is illegal in India, but is allegedly big business in the IPL and is run by underground syndicates in Mumbai and other parts of the country. Some claim it is run out of Dubai.
On the night of May 15/16, the Rajasthan Royals trio of S. Sreesanth, Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila and 11 bookies were arrested in Mumbai, but that was only the start of a series of arrests across the country in connection with spot fixing and illegal betting. Further high profile arrests were Bollywood and TV actor Vindoo Dara Singh and the CSK Team Principal Gurunath Meiyappan, who happens to be the BCCI president and CSK owner N. Srinivasan's son-in-law.
But spot fixing isn't the only shadow being cast over the IPL; Sahara India Pariwar pulled out their Pune Warriors India from next season onwards due to differences with the IPL governing body about the original franchise fee, which Sahara consider to have been way over the top. The IPL has encashed a bank guarantee from Sahara, which the company doesn't agree to. This is the second time the conglomerate Sahara has made such a move, but it isn't only against the IPL but also against the autocratic rule of BCCI president N. Srinivasan.
Does the IPL have a future?
The IPL has a special place in the heart of Indian cricket fans, especially those who love the mixture of sports and entertainment. But the spot fixing episode has not gone down well with the fans.
Jayesh Patel from Mumbai doesn't know what to believe. "I have been a big IPL fan since the start of the tournament. But with spot fixing and other allegations of match fixing I do not know if matches are really played out and decided on the field or if it is all pre-planned like in the WWE wrestling."
Dhiman Sarkar, sports editor of the daily Hindustan Times in Kolkata, doesn't want to draw conclusions about the IPL just yet. "It is true that the tournament was in the news for the wrong reasons, especially at the end stage. I think we should let the law take its course before tarring everyone, the tournament included."
Sachin Tendulkar retired; Mumbai Indians deserving champions
After the end of IPL-6, many will now only talk about spot fixing and the bad things associated with cricket, but a good season of T20 cricket has passed and it was also the last for Sachin Tendulkar.
"The final was a bit of an anti-climax with Chennai losing their way while chasing but the intensity of competition and the quality of cricket was very high for most of the tournament," according to Dhiman Sarkar. "Even in the final, Malinga and Johnson produced an excellent spell of fast bowling. The full-house at the Eden Gardens saw some good cricket."
Throughout the tournament, Dhiman Sarkar added, "we saw Dale Steyn's quality bowling, Chris Gayle's batting, the mystery of Sunil Narine, the class of Rohit Sharma, the power of Kieron Pollard and the guile of Amit Mishra, the arrival of David Miller, etc. There were many exciting matches. It would be unfair to dismiss the efforts of these champion players based on charges yet to be proved."
The final also marked the retirement of Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar from the IPL just after his team the Mumbai Indians won the trophy. Tendulkar couldn't play the final due to a left hand injury, but still decided to announce his retirement after the game for morale.
Most fans were happy to see the Mumbai Indians win the trophy against the Chennai Super Kings, whose owners are in the docks due to the fixing controversy. Many now question the consistent good performances from the Chennai Super Kings in the IPL, which has seen them play five of the six IPL finals, winning the title twice.
"It was great to see Mumbai Indians finally lift the IPL trophy. But I will now wait to see what happens in the spot fixing and illegal betting controversy before I decide if I will support and watch IPL-7. My trust in this league is gone and I'd rather watch India in international cricket or maybe even other sports," disappointed fan Jayesh Patel added.
At the moment, many IPL fans are disgusted with what has happened, but IPL-7 is many months away. Perhaps the IPL will give fans something to look forward to in April 2014.