Thursday, May 16, 2013

Aditya Tare sparkles in a IPL match sullied by spot-fixing allegations

As the Indian Premier League (IPL) coasts away to unprecedented success in its 6th edition with television signals getting beamed onto reportedly 198 countries, recession seems to be a word absent from the dictionary of BCCI, the rich & powerful cricket control board of India.

IPL is a T20 cricket tournament played in a league format among 9 teams that are named after nine cities and are owned by nine moneybags out of which  3 are family-managed industrialists, 3 are film stars, 1 is a non-certified Collective Investment Scheme (CIS) operator,  1 is a media baron-cum-airline owner & only 1 is a corporate group.  Out of the 3 industrialists; 1 is a liquor baron-cum airline owner, 1 is oil & gas and retail-store major and 1 is the President of BCCI . IPL league may have the adjective 'premier' prefixed to it but in reality, there are no other leagues below it. IPL kind of floats on air. There are no relegation rules applicable for the bottom teams since there isn't any other league to relegate it to. Hence there's no promotion of the top teams of the non-existent lower league. As far as the business model from BCCI's perspective is concerned , it's a surefire winner. After all BCCI collects Rs. 40 crores per franchisee annually besides huge annuity that it gets for having auctioned off its marketing & television rights. It's the finances of the franchise owners that are under a lot of cloud since none of these teams have a publicly listed balance sheet. Only one team had it earlier. The erstwhile Deccan Chargers, who were owned by the Deccan Chronicle owners, had a balance sheets in public domain since they were a listed company. But subsequently they fell into large debts and sold off the franchisee to a media baron from the south. With a small control group of 9 owners and with their mostly-hidden finances , one is not sure how the franchisees make their money. They annually pay  Rs. 40 crores to BCCI , another 60 crores for players and hence its expected they must make at least 200 crores annually from ticket sales, merchandise, sponsorships and the likes. Quite a tall order by any standards and definitely the least exciting way to make money if you look at the profile of owners.

What's the missing link in the revenue stream? There have been hush-hush talks of  owners making money through betting & fixing and/or laundering their (& others' ) black money into IPL. These are only allegations and some would say of the flying variety. But then when suddenly three players (including a World Cup winning member) of  one particular team gets arrested on charges of spot-fixing by the Delhi Police , there's bound to be allegations  that will not only be flying but piercing as well. Delhi Police held a press conference to show clippings from three matches involving one particular team, Rajasthan Royals, as evidences. The last of those pertained to the match between Mumbai Indians (MI) and Rajasthan Royals (RR) held last night at the Wankhade Stadium where Sachin Tendulkar didn't take part on account of an injury. RR lost the match by 14 runs , exactly the amount of runs that a RR spinner, Ankit Chavan, was alleged by the Delhi police of having fixed  with a bookie for a consideration of Rs. 60 lakhs. A clear case where spot fixing an over for 14 runs led to match fixing.     


The MI versus RR match had some moments of its own. Rahul Dravid was given caught behind when he tried to swish a Mitchell Johnson bouncer to the leg side. Television replays showed that the umpire's finger went up faster than the two pairs of  hands of the bowler & wicket- keeper who went up in a casual appeal. Dravid , whose legendary ice-cool exterior can be compared only to that of Bjorn Borg the tennis-great, was not amused and he could be seen muttering something from behind the cage of his helmet. They looked like expletives aimed at the umpire, Asnani.  Malinga  used his legally-permissible-fifteen-degree-hand-swing ( an euphemism for legal throws) in the death overs to choke the RR batsmen of a possible victory. But the cricketing pudding was in the arrival of Aditya Tare (see photos), a promising newcomer whose bating seems to be a heady punch of Dravid's technique & Tendulkar's creative aggression, who made a quick-fire 59 driving Faulkner to three boundaries in one particular over.

But now with the spot-fixing allegations against players of RR, fans &  skeptics  would pore through the videos of matches to discover more such signals given by erring bowlers to the bookies and  their profligacy in bowling. Interestingly RR have been experimenting with their batting order and teams every second game. And even this particular game against MI was no exception when they brought in Faulkner as a pinch-hitter. The experiment hardly succeeded. In one particular match against the KKR at Eden Gardens , RR got their captain Dravid to bat at number 8 (which Dravid justified by saying they were following horses-for-courses strategy on a dusty pitch such as at Eden ) instead of his customary place as the opener. A place where a slow batter like Dravid finds sufficient time to anchor his presence and build a larger score for his team. RR lost that match against KKR , completely against their run of consecutive victories preceding the match. To take the attention away from RR , take the match between MI and Chennai Super Kings (CSK) where the super-performer Pollard dropped three consecutive catches of Mike Hussey at point but managed to hold on to the fourth ,a skier,  sometimes later.

Like always, fresh allegations with evidences always put the spot light on the entire tournament as people hardly believe in a localized event such as the one reported today.  Specially if one remembers the context of an oligarchy of 9 teams, limited streams of revenue for the franchisees and the lack of transparencies of the books of the franchisees. Although the BCCI chief and Chennai Super Kings owner ( can you see the conflict of interest here? Well BCCI can't) , N. Srinivasan has promised to root out spot-fixing  from IPL , fans are aware that such lip-services from an insider hold no credibility.  Allegations of match-fixing, spot-fixing have been doing the rounds of Indian cricket for more than a decade now and save for banning cricketers , BCCI hasn't proved effective in rooting out the evil , that is criminal in nature.

Spot-fixing or Match-fixing , IPL appears to be the platform where black money from India and abroad gets laundered & enhanced through a betting-cum-fixing network that has players acting as conduits & willing accomplices. Its high time that the IPL governing council , a team of 8 with 2 politicians, take a serious stand on the issue and as a first measure initiate a CBI enquiry into the dealings of players, coaches, umpires and owners of franchisees & their opponent teams involved in the  allegations of spot-fixing in IPL and match-fixing in ODIs. This is because even a new student of economics will tell you that the real money floating around televised international cricket matches in India, not excluding the lucrative IPL,  do not lie in franchisee fees or  sponsorships  or players' salaries but in the illegal betting-cum-fixing market that runs into thousands of crores per match. Secondly the sport ministry should seriously consider legalizing match-betting in India if only to drive the criminal & fixing elements out as well as to bring in tax-revenues for channelizing the funds to needy sports bodies that play equally competitive games other than cricket.

As far as the future of IPL 6 is concerned , RR will find it hard to qualify for the final beset as they'll be with more & more of flying allegations of fixings. MI seem to be making a confident stride towards the final and towards the glitering trophy for the first time in the history of IPL only if the tournament doesn't capsize under pressure arising from these new allegations. Its almost as if the final of IPL 6 has already been  played last night at the Wankhade.

Photo Source : IPL official photo archive


Million Luck said...

Hi Jas, Thanks for dropping by. I need one help. I want to know how you got approved by Google ad-sense. Tried for 2 times, rejected me twice. Not sure what im doing wrong.

JAS said...

@Millon Luck, That was long ago. Just followed the link from blogger dashboard, I guess. Haven't used it much, though. You can try to go through the checklist again , here.

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