Fall from grace

With the suspension of Lalit Modi from all positions in the Board of Control for Cricket in India, including as the high-flying chairman of the Indian Premier League, the curtain has come down on act one of a controversy that has driven a massive knife into the heart of Indian cricket. An ill-advised tweet making the share-holding patterns in the Kochi franchisee public, triggered a rapid chain of events culminating in Modi’s suspension and a show cause notice to him. The brash Modi’s role in making the IPL the brand it is today is unquestionable, but in his mistaken belief that he is the IPL and that the IPL is Modi lay the genesis of his dramatic fall from grace.

Modi’s admirable vision and undiluted passion, coupled with a shrewd business mind and the ability to identify novel means of selling the IPL, made him popular with players and officials, but his arrogance and utter disdain of any dissenting voice, however justified, won him few friends. His autocratic ways of functioning, tacitly approved by a mute and ignorant governing council, are only just beginning to come to light, as are sharp practices involving sums allegedly running into millions of dollars. His unshakeable belief that he was bigger than the product he created has eventually left him in the wilderness. The suspension is but the first step in a long process that, should it take its logical course, will see Modi left to fend for himself, even as the creation that thrust him into the limelight will continue to flourish.

Serious as the recent taints, including the allegations of match-fixing are, the IPL will remain upwardly mobile simply because as a product, it has so much to offer. Over the first three seasons, fans have lapped it up with unconcealed glee, packing stadiums to the rafters and soaking in the heady mix of outstanding cricket and wholesome entertainment. Unlike Modi, the fans realise that what makes the IPL is not its creator but the parade of stars of different nationalities who set friendships aside and engage in no-holds-barred battles for six and a half weeks. Cricket has shown remarkable resilience in overcoming the match-fixing scandal of the early 2000s; rest assured, this is one more setback it will take effortlessly in its stride. It might be Endgame Modi, but the IPL is far from history.

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