Modi will not go quietly as IPL controversy gathers pace

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The Independent Online

Lalit Modi came out fighting yesterday. It was entirely in keeping that he should do so via a message on his Twitter feed as cricket continued to reel from the allegations surrounding the Indian Premier League.

The day after being summarily suspended from his post as IPL commissioner, Modi, who is being accused of several financial misdeeds ranging from money laundering to match fixing, tweeted: "Thank you all for message of support. It is really appreciated. I am still chairman of IPL. Just suspended – we have just begun."

It was widely assumed that the suspension, enacted on Sunday almost as soon as the final of the third version of the tournament had finished, was merely a precursor to a formal and permanent severance. In some quarters it was hoped that Modi might see that the game was up and walk away.

But he is clearly intent on staying around and he has been given 15 days to lodge papers disproving the allegations made in a report of India's Income Tax Department which suggests irregularities from top to bottom. The Board of Control for Cricket in India has been deeply embarrassed by the controversy and yesterday installed Chirayu Amin, a pharmaceuticals millionaire from Baroda, as interim chairman.

The success of the IPL cannot be ignored, however, and if some of it has been built with the skilful use of smoke and mirrors, there was no denying that most of India was enraptured by the final on Sunday in which Chennai Super Kings, led by MS Dhoni, beat the favourites, Mumbai Indians, whose captain is Sachin Tendulkar, by 22 runs.

The next significant club T20 tournament, the Champions League, also seems certain to be the subject of contention, much of it emanating from England. There is the increasing likelihood that English counties will seek to take part although the county championship is still going on at the time.

The Champions League was spawned by the IPL and is run jointly by the BCCI and the boards of Australia and South Africa. England were frozen out when it was established, though the finalists of its domestic competition are invited to compete for a prize pot totalling $5m.

But the tournament is being held from 10 September to 26 September as the championship approaches a climax. It is an open secret that many of the players would rather be in South Africa. But there has been no official communication whatever.

David Collier, the chief executive of the England and Wales Cricket Board, said: "It is extremely improbable that any English county will be taking part in the Champions League. The sanctity of the domestic season is of the utmost importance, as all the clubs agree.

"We are awaiting a response from the BCCI on a number of proposals. One of them is for the winners and runners up of the Champions League to play our winners and runners-up. Now that the IPL is over we hope to hear from them soon." A collision course is already under construction.