The Indian Premier League (IPL) has once again captured the attention of the nation, as the current season commenced in March this year with full fanfare. The unique cricketing format, with its celebrity-induced glamour and city-based teams, has enthralled fans and fostered a sense of kinship among supporters. However, the IPL’s journey to cricketing opulence and commercial success has been marked by scandals, greed, coercion, and dubious management.
The IPL was conceptualised and founded by controversial businessman Lalit Modi in 2007. The league revolutionised cricket by introducing a player auction system, city-based teams, and Bollywood celebrities such as Shah Rukh Khan and Preity Zinta as team owners. The entertainment and glamour factor brought in viewers who were previously uninterested in the sport. But beneath the surface lay a darker side.
Critics noted that Modi brought money to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the national governing body of cricket in India, but it also brought corruption. The 2010 IPL edition came under scrutiny for alleged money laundering, and Modi was accused of manipulating auctions and broadcast deals. This, along with political and legal pressure, led to his ban by the BCCI in 2013. The same year, the Rajasthan Royals owner Raj Kundra was summoned by a committee comprising retired Supreme Court judges Ashok Bhan and R.V. Raveendran to respond to allegations of involvement in betting and match-fixing activities. Furthermore, players S. Sreesanth, Ankeet Chavan, and Ajit Chandila were arrested for their alleged involvement in spot-fixing during the sixth edition of the IPL. The IPL’s links to the underworld, political interference, and Prime Minister Modi himself were cited as reasons for its fall from grace. The crisis exposed a handful of individuals and stakeholders who believed they were larger than the game. The IPL scandal remains a watershed moment in Indian sports history, and Indian cricket has never been the same since.
As the IPL season returns once again, Frontlineoffers a collection of stories that delve into the formation and subsequent mismanagement of the IPL, shedding light on its rise in Indian cricket.