Indian Premier League (IPL) has been fascinating and exciting ever since its inaugural season. Having completed four successful years, Indian Premier League has stepped into the fifth year. Lalit Modi's million dollar baby, Indian Premier League has witnessed many highs and lows in the last few years, here is a recap.
The first edition of IPL was huge, with plenty of innovative segments during the start of the tournament as the opening ceremony held in Bangalore entertained the audience to the maximum extent, leaving the viewer to ask for more, which was further satisfied by a breath-taking knock from Brendon McCullum, who scored an unbeaten 158* to become the first batsman to score a century in IPL, and till date, though many players have reached the three figure mark, have not dared to emulate McCullum's record.
The entire concept was new to the audience, as the league involved players from all over the world, which has given domestic cricketers a great oppportunity to learn as they shared the dressing room with the most experienced cricketers who had inspired them to take up the sport during their initial days.
Further, the first edition of the tournament started on April 18, 2008, which lasted for 46 days with 59 matches scheduled, out of which 58 matches were played while one was washed out due to rain.
All the teams got to play at home and away in a round-robin system, while the top four teams progressed to the knockout stage (semi-finals) followed by a final.
In the first edition of IPL, Rajasthan Royals, considered to be the under-dogs, under the captaincy of spin wizard Shane Warne, surprised everyone by lifting the trophy for the first time after defeating the most challenging Chennai Super Kings, in a last ball thriller to emerge as winners.
The first edition did include the costliest slap in cricketing history, as Harbhajan Singh slapped Sreesanth which created a flutter followed by a ban for the rest of the T20 league matches for the season. This episode is remembered till date, as one of the highlights apart from the other incidents that went on to make the first edition a grand success.
The second edition started with more hype as people were very curious to watch the second edition after a successful first season. Since there were issues related to security of players due to general elections in India, the tournament was shifted to South Africa in 2009. The second edition was supposedly the best tournament for the teams that failed in the first season, as Deccan Chargers and Royal Challengers Bangalore who were placed at the bottom of the points table in the first edition finished winners and runners respectively.
After a couple of years since the second edition unfolded, reports about Lalit Modi, the then chairman of IPL, Gerald Majola, an official of Cricket South Africa being allegedly involved in a few financial irregularities has created waves.
Further Cheerleaders, a new concept in IPL did entertain audience but soon was the talk of the town for various reasons. Scantily dressed cheerleaders stirred a moral debate with political leaders calling them worse than bar dancers, who made a mockery of cricket.
The then BJP President Nitin Gadkari raised the issue in the State Legislative Council prompting the government to take some action on cheer leaders while things took a different turn after it was being raised as cheerleaders complained of racism.
Fake IPL player was another controversy that rocked IPL, as there were news updates from a fake IPL player, who claimed to be a part of the KKR squad, discussed game plans, strategies, gossip to make the league more sensational. It is learnt that the fake IPL player further went on to publish a book called Game Changers, since he got lakhs of visitors, whether fake or real, this individual became popular within no time.
IPL 3 started afresh after the controversies that rocked IPL in the first two editions. 66 players were on offer in the auction but only 11 were bought by the franchises. The season further saw many problems starting with Hyderabad team expressing their displeasure playing at home due to the political crisis in the Telangana region. The new grounds were Nagpur, Navi Mumbai and Cuttack for Deccan Chargers.
The third edition saw Chennai win the trophy for the first time after beating Mumbai Indians by 22 runs. It was the first sporting event to be broadcast live on Youtube in association with indiatimes in the year 2010.
Lalit Modi, who was instrumental in launching the cash-rich league, witnessed highs and lows during the perior 2008-2010. He enjoyed taking control of the league which also compared him to become the prime authority of IPL, gaining prominence every year.
In 2010, after he oversaw the bidding process which included two new teams, his tweets on a social networking site Twitter, revealing the stake holders of the Kochi IPL team was allegedly breaching confidentiality agreements which further led to the resignation of the then Minister of State for External Affairs Dr Shashi Tharoor.
Following his resignation, Modi was sacked as Chairman and Commissioner of IPL in April 2010. A suspension notice and a 34 page letter stating 22 charges of impropriety were served via e-mailto Modi. While Modi further protested his innocence after the IPL final in 2010.
While an income tax department report on Modi also revealed that he holds stakes in three IPL teams - Rajasthan Royals, Mumbai Indians and Kings XI Punjab. He was also alleged in match-fixing and betting in IPL games, while there were charges on Modi for helping his family and friends buy stakes in IPL teams.
Recently, New Zealand cricketer filed a libel case against Modi since his recent post on twitter raised a few eye brows as he had included Chris Cairns' name and had stated that he was involved in fixing matches in 2008. After filing a case against Modi, Cairns won costs and damages.
While the fouth season witnessed two more teams, as Kochi and Pune were added to the existing list of eight teams to make it ten. This further increased the number of matches, considering the previous format, the matches could have been anywhere from 60-94. But they replaced the round robin stage by a group stage with two groups of five, and considered the top two teams from both the groups for the knockout stages limiting the matches to 74.
Later, this was again modified as each team was scheduled to play 5 other teams in a two way round-robin format, while they had to play against two teams at home and two away, so that each team plays 14 matches. Top four teams would qualify for the semi-finals and finals.
This year saw the most controversies in IPL, as Rajasthan Royals and KIngs XI Punjab franchises were terminated for breaching ownership rules while Kochi franchise was also issued a warning to resolve all their ownership disputes. After a span of two months Rajasthan Royals and Punjab were allowed to take part in the fourth edition of IPL. Plenty of issues regarding Kochi franchise, led to its termination from IPL 5.
Chennai Super Kings, again became the undisputed kings, as they won the title for the second time after defeating Royal Challengers Bangalore by 58 runs in the final of the fourth edition of IPL.
With all the hype, Indian Premier League is all set to start its fifth edition today as defending champions Chennai Super Kings and winners of the Champions League T20 2011 Mumbai Indians battle it out in the tournament opener at MA Chidambaram Stadium at 8 pm today.
The fifth edition has nine teams, each team scheduled to play 16 matches while 76 matches are spread over 54 days starting from April 4 to May 27, 2012.
CSK, RCB, MI are termed favourites to win the fifth edition of the Indian Premier League. With the fifth edition also creating a lot of hype, opening ceremony already receiving mixed reviews, it remains to be seen if the tournament draws attention for cricketing spirit or controversies.