In its sixth season, with a week to go for the finals, the Indian Premier League was heading for a ripper finish. The stadiums were spilling over, TV ratings were off the graph, 10-second ads cost more than the starting salaries of IIM grads, there were preening owners and administrators everywhere. Twenty20 cricket, as we were being told ad nauseam, was the new cool. So it was all jumping japang, jampak, jampak when Shantakumaran Sreesanth of the Rajasthan Royals kissed his finger, crossed his heart and tucked a white towel in his blue pyjamas for his second over against Kings XI Punjab on Thursday, May 9, in Mohali.
A week later, though, he was being led off to a court in Delhi, head masked. Sree had allegedly, in collusion with cousin and bookie Jiju Janardhanan, done a bit of ‘spot-fixing’, giving away a predetermined number of runs in an over. Suddenly, for the second year in a row, the Indian cricket board’s cash cow was in danger of ending up in blazing infamy—and letting its unsuspecting fans and followers down.