As the low clouds of the spot-fixing controversy hung over the sixth edition of the Pepsi Indian Premier League there was an unusually cheery soundtrack to the Chennai Super Kings' Friday evening practice session at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium. A 150-strong group of young women cricketers, in the city for a training camp, were in the stands right behind the nets from which the batsmen launched towering sixes. While the real impact of the spot-fixing saga on viewer interest will be known in the weeks to come, when television ratings are computed, there seemed to be no dip on the ground.
For Chennai, who have led the pack all season and were never really in danger of not making the cut, despite the Mumbai Indians eventually taking top spot, their final league match of the season, on Saturday (May 18) against the Royal Challengers Bangalore, merely afforded a chance to reaffirm all that was good about their methods. Even without being able to put their best team on the park - Faf du Plessis would have walked into the eleven if not for a back injury - Chennai have had enough power in their ranks to cover all bases.
For Bangalore, the road has been less comfortable. After starting strongly, they have had to scrap for wins. Initially, it was playing away from home that posed a problem, but just as that hurdle was crossed, inconsistency came to the fore. While Bangalore insist that they are not over-dependent on Chris Gayle, and when you have Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers in your ranks there's no obvious reason why you should rely on one batsman, irrespective of who he is, opposition bowlers will always fancy their chances once they get Gayle early.