The IPL ‘Fix’: Why Fans Claim the MI vs CSK Final Was Scripted
Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings, the two powerhouses of the IPL, lock horns against each other for the fourth time in 12 seasons.
A whopping 18.6 million concurrent viewers watch the game on Hotstar, the most ever for any live streaming platform globally.
The match goes down to the wire and is won by Mumbai Indians by the narrowest possible margin of one run, that too on the very last ball.
This is the franchise's fourth IPL title win. Interestingly, their victories have come in alternate years – 2013, 2015, 2017 and now 2019.
What a match! What a tournament!
Some fans found this Cinderella tale a bit too convenient and vented both their anger and suspicion on social media.
The Uncharacteristic Dhoni Run-Out
There are several other factors which sowed the seeds of doubt in the minds of IPL followers. Not least, the controversial run-out of MS Dhoni.
The fact of the matter is that there were two camera angles – the front-on view and side-on view. While Dhoni's bat seemed just inside the crease from the front-on view, it looked on the line from the side-on angle. However, going by the age-old adage that the benefit of doubt always goes to the batsman, fans asked how the third umpire could rule Dhoni out when there was sufficient doubt to the contrary. The fact that the veteran keeper was dismissed in an attempt to sneak in a second run off an overthrow, further fuelled speculation on social media.
The Missing Shane Watson Frame
Despite the uncharacteristic Dhoni dismissal, just when it seemed that seasoned campaigner Shane Watson would somehow pummel the Super Kings to a win, he too was run-out at a crucial juncture.
What was befuddling to the viewers was that the non-striker's camera angle was never shown by the broadcasters and the fans were left wondering why the former Australian international fell awfully short of his crease in what looked like a comfortable two.
The match, despite not being a high-scoring one, going right down to the last ball and then Shardul Thakur getting beaten off Lasith Malinga's slower one, also did not go down well with the fans. They argued that just like the final, there have been numerous other IPL matches this season that have ended in the last over. In fact, six matches other than the final have been decided on the last ball. Six matches out of 60, ie: one in every 10 matches. That is quite a high proportion for an otherwise rare occurrence, the fans suspected.
There were also a number of dropped catches that left fans suspicious. Suresh Raina dropped an absolute dolly off Hardik Pandya, who then went on to do substantial damage. Likewise, Shane Watson was dropped thrice.
A Comedy of Errors
MS Dhoni's remark in the post-match presentation aptly sums up the proceedings of the final.
That the match oscillated like a pendulum turned out to be a bonanza for the bookmakers. Both conventional betters and those betting online were left cursing their luck as the match kept taking unanticipated turns.
What to Make of These Allegations
In essence, the reason why allegations of match-fixing and spot-fixing are taken so seriously in cricket is because the game has, on several previous occasions, fallen victim to this menace.
That said, do we actually believe that IPL matches are fixed? If we were convinced that they are, would 18.6 million people have spent their time and energy watching them? Give it a second thought. Are some of us just being sore losers? Would we have let out the same IPL-final-was-fixed shriek had CSK ended on the right side of the line?
(Saksham Mishra is a freelance sports journalist, justifying hours of watching sports by scribbling down a few logical lines that might just about hold your interest. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)