By Ignatius Albuquerque
The euphoria over the World Cup victory by the Indian team brilliantly marshalled by Captain Cool Mahendra Singh Dhoni has not yet dissipated, although life has returned to normal for all of the Indian team members. In fact, most of the Indians and a good portion of India’s cricketing aficionados are now fully engrossed with the Indian Premier League, as Warriors, Kings and even Super Kings battle it out, day after day to provide millions of fans their daily fix of cricketing thrills.
With its diet supremely rich in sixes and boundaries, the IPL has for sure enthralled their many fans but there is no denying that there is immense money being ploughed in, day in and day out in the illegal betting that is thriving all over India. Of course, add to the huge amounts of money the legal betting in England and Europe, and one can safely say that there is tons of money in this slam-bang version of the game, with the bookies at the end of the day making a huge killing after each game is played out with its accompanying drama and action.
GANGULY TO MAKE COMEBACK
As if all this was not enough, you have the return of Bengali Tiger Saurav Ganguly who will be turning out for Pune Warriors. Ever a fighter, Ganguly will have to perform out of his skin as the Warriors losing skid stands at seven games with little or no hopes of advancing further, whether the great Ganguly dons their colours or not in the future.
In fact the newest entrants to IPL IV, both Warriors and Kochi Tuskers have not much of a hope to make further progress in this tournament, which has more than witnessed its bit of glamour, thanks to Bollywood actors Shahrukh Khan, Shilpa Shetty and Preity Zinta. It is common knowledge that SRK as Shahrukh is popularly called has taken a long hiatus to be with his boys the Kolkata Knight Riders even as the pretty Priyanka Chopra is sometimes seen supporting the Riders. SRK the part owner of Riders has this year seen his stellar presence do wonders for KKR who are doing well, although Shilpa with more than a little help from Hollywood starlet Elizabeth Hurley who is Royals team captain Shane Warneís girlfriend has not done much for Rajasthan Royals, with Preity Zintaís team Kings Punjab XI is in the dumps. So much for star quotient!
According to ‘Hurley-burlyí sources, Warne is presently playing his final IPL season and is due to retire at the end of IPL IV and henceforth will be seen only as a consultant for the Royals.
Sure bowlers like Mumbai Indiansí peerless Lasith Malinga and Sachin Tendulkar have enhanced their already considerable reputations with splendid displays but what about guys like Kings XI Paul Valthathy and Ambati Rayudu who have done their reputation a world of good with consistent performances.
Amidst all this IPL glam-sham, there is of course the odd cry emanating this time from of all places, Sri Lanka about match-fixing. And the whistle blower this time is former Lankan skipper Hashan Tillekaratne who has said he will only announce the names to ICC. No doubt Hashan got able support from former Pakistan wicket-keeper Rashid Latif who said that match fixing is rampant. Whether or not there is any element of truth in what Hassan says will only be known in the future, but the mind goes back to one of Pakistanís pre-eminent whistle blowers Sarfraz Nawaz who affirmed that match-fixing was very prevalent both in the ODI and Test arena. No doubt, the many fans used to take Nawazís much-reported comments with more than a pinch of salt, but it will interesting to stand and watch from the sidelines what comes of Hashanís accusations.
KALMADI COOLS HEELS
Meanwhile, chief protagonist in the Commonwealth Games scam, Suresh Kalmadi who is now cooling his heels behind bars had a sad birthday. No doubt, he was given a separate cell in the terribly overcrowded Tihar jail which presently is housing many big names in its precincts. Kalmadi arrested on charges of cheating, conspiracy and corruption in the award of Games related contracts, was sent to 14 days’ judicial custody by a Delhi court.According to a prison official, Kalmadi along with the other two accused organising committee officials ó- Surjit Lal and ASV Prasad -- were allotted separate cells unlike other high profile accused who share their cells with other inmates.Anyway, it is high time errant sporting officials and their tribe is always on the increase are brought to book, and Kalmadiís arrest can thus be viewed as a step in the right direction.
ON THE MOVE
One of the highly fruitful Indo-Pak partnerships, the tennis pairing of Pakistanís Aisam-ul-Haq Quershi and Indiaís Rohan Bopanna have soared to ATP ranking of six. The pair who go by the name, Indo-Pak express, have recently carved out a string of superlative displays including a win over the highly-acclaimed Indian pair of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupati. Not to forget the bouquet of accolades got from the media for their humanitarians goals in bringing the two countries closer.
INDO-PAK CLASH ON CARDS
Okay, okay, the high-octane clash between India and Pakistan recently witnessed at Mohali in the World Cup semifinal gave fans much to cheer about, prepare yourself for another clash between the neighbours in the Indian national game which is hockey. Come May 11, India and Pakistan who are presently struggling internationally, will cross swords at the Azlan Shah Cup international tourney in Malaysia.
There have been talks of reinstating sporting ties between the nations with hockey being the stage for such a rapprochement in the future. Letís wait and watch!
There may be intense rivalry on various sporting fields between the two nations but more than anything sporting ties as and when they take place will only be for the best for both nations, and given their fabled history, one can only wait for a positive outcome in this regard. In a scenario laden with mistrust, more than anything, sports can truly heal!