Cricket fanatics of India have already witnessed several high-voltage matches in this season of the cash-rich league to finally book their Sunday evening for the summit clash between two equally strong contenders, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and Chennai Super Kings (CSK).
From 24X7 television channels to social media, the only topic of discussion seems to be on the probable chances of CSK winning their third title or KKR upsetting their dream by winning their maiden trophy on Sunday night.
Despite all these discussions and debates, IPL´s season five hit spotlights even for non-cricketing reasons that to a greater extent marred the intensity and dramas within the field.
While, controversies and questions have always surrounded the tournament right from its arrival in the paradigm of world cricket in 2008, 2012 edition triggered arguably more controversies and speculations than the past seasons as it passed through some rough patches this year.
Perhaps, the biggest blow the tournament received this year was spot-fixing allegations against few cricketers, who played for different franchises. Names of five Indian cricketers surfaced after a sting-operation conducted by a news channel brought back the dark clouds of ´fixing´.
The five players are T.P. Sudhindra (Deccan Chargers), Mohnish Mishra (Pune Warriors), Amit Yadav (Kings XI Punjab), Shalabh Shrivastava (Kings XI Punjab) and Abhinav Bali, a young Delhi cricketer.
The Indian cricket board also suspended the cricketers on charges of spot fixing in the IPL, after their names surfaced in a sting operation conducted by India TV.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president N.Srinivasan also appointed ex-CBI officer Ravi Sawani, a former head of ICC´s Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU), to file a report in 15-20 days.
According to "India TV" news channel sting operation, IPL players were accepting bribes.
Sudhnidra was caught in the camera allegedly demanding Rs 40,000 to bowl a no-ball in a particular match.
The issue also created an uproar in the Parliament and Union Sports Minister Ajay Maken asked the BCCI to clear the cloud over spot-fixing allegations in the IPL at the earliest.
"It is a challenge as well as an opportunity for the BCCI as it would help them eradicate the menace of match-fixing. They should resolve the issue early," said Maken.
Shah Rukh Khan banned from entering Wankhede:
Controversies touched IPL-V once again when Bollywood actor and owner of the side Kolkata Knight Riders, Shah Rukh Khan got involved into a scuffle with a Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) personnel. As a result of the scuffle the MCA banned Bollywood superstar from entering Mumbai´s Wankhede stadium for five years.
MCA president Vilasrao Deshmukh said Khan ´has shown no regrets for his action and behavior´.
"The managing committee of the MCA is forced to ban Khan from entering Wankhede for a period five years," Deshmukh said.
The MCA had alleged that Khan was "dead drunk" and started a brawl with security personnel at the stadium after a match in which KKR beat the home team Mumbai Indians while the actor denied the charges, asserting he was definitely not intoxicated.
Khan, however, argued that he became aggressive only when the cricket body's officials ´manhandled´ the children under his responsibility at the stadium and ´misbehaved´ with him.
The entire episode surely added to the crown of controversies already worn by IPL-5.
Sting of molestation charges:
From cheerleaders to spot fixing troubles, nearly every possible controversies had touched the tournament so far, but it received a severe blow when molestation charges were made by a woman named Zohal Hamid, against Australian cricketer Luke Pomersbach.
Pomersbach, who was charged with allegedly molesting the woman and assaulting her fiance', was arrested and then granted bail by a Delhi court but asked not to leave the country.
According to the charges, Pomersbach had allegedly misbehaved with the woman, a US citizen of Indian origin, at the Maurya Sheraton Hotel here during a party late Thursday night.
The woman in her statement said that Pomersbach invited himself for some drinks with the couple and some common friends from Mumbai in their room.
After some time, the women left her friends to catch some sleep but the Australian followed her and misbehaved with her. When the women´s fiancee intervened, Pomersbach allegedly beat him up as well landing him in hospital.
The woman also claimed that there was tremendous pressure on her to withdraw the case.
However, the woman later dropped the charges against the cricketer on May 24.
Rave party scandal:
Before the three controversies were silent, a fresh controversy surfaced on May 20 when a rave party scandal hit the tournament quite hard.
IPL players Rahul Sharma and Wayne Parnell of Pune Warriors were among the 100 odd people detained by Mumbai police after they busted a rave party May 20 night in Mumbai.
Both the players claimed innocence and Rahul Sharma claimed that he was in a different party in the venue- Oak Woods Hotel in Juhu and was not in the rave party.
Sharma said he was clean and also said that he would give up cricket if he tested positive.
"We reached there at around 7 in the evening and all of a sudden within half an hour of us reaching there, the police raid happened. We didn´t know what was happening, I asked the police officers and they told me that a raid was in progress," said Sharma.
"We have cooperated with the police and have even given medical tests. I belong to a simple family and have not even had a beer in my life, where does the question of attending a rave party arise? I will give up the sport if my tests come out positive. I have told everything to the team management and things would be clear once the medical report comes out," he said.
Commenting on the incident, South African pacer Parnell said: "I don´t do drugs. Myself and Rahul were there at the hotel in a party at the request of a friend. We went there and at 7´o´clock police were all over in the party. We were just at the wrong place at the wrong time."
IPL -5 will surely keep hitting the memories of cricket lovers for all these controversies apart from the charismatic performance by their favourite stars on the lush green fields.
However, it is only time that will tell again that whether these events will actually thrash the popularity graph of the annual cricketing extravaganza in the upcoming years.
(Writing by Supriyo Hazra)