When Indian Premier League (IPL) started in 2008 with BCCI buoyed by India’s win in 2007 T20 world cup, it seemed it would need some tinkering to stay afloat. A mongoose bat made mandatory or some fancy colour ball or a 20 over powerplay. But it has survived all the scams and the retirements and has come as a breather for a nation which is still searching for some entertaining (Sunil Grover, please come back) or meaningful TV hours after the DD era went out. Let us try and decode The mystery called the Indian Premier League.
The stadiums are still abuzz. Families have fewer places to go as most good movies are being rated A by the respectable members of CBFC. Couples have Anti Romeo squads for company and the youth have highways near every liquor shop and bars. And not to forget the cheerleaders or where else can you find the foreign babes going gaga over balls (Make in India anyone).
The picture was unclear in November with tussle between BCCI and Supreme Court threatening to cast shadow over IPL. But everything fell in place and as always, the auction threw some surprises. Ben Stokes laughed all the way to the bank with a record price. And batsmen may get all the hype and awards but the real money was raked in by the bowlers.
Tymal Mills, Trent Boult, Kagiso Rabada, Rashid Khan, Karn Sharma and T Natarajan were lapped up by the franchises for lucrative amounts. And then there were eight opening ceremonies with vibrant performances (Ok do Amy Jackson need to dance well to be vibrant?). As the tagline of IPL 10 says “Ye 10 saal apke naam”, no fan can be left out they said.
IPL 2017 started with the blitzkrieg innings by Yuvraj Singh. The back foot punch over mid wicket reminded us of the golden days again. The title defenders Sunrisers have the world class bowling attack but they are relying heavily on Warner for runs. Royal Challengers too have the bowling woes and they are awaiting the best batsman in the world to come on field and make some Virat totals for them, though another contender for this title, DeVilliers announced his return with some breathtaking strokes.
Talking about breath, Lynn didn’t allow the bowlers to take one and his injury could dealt a severe blow to Knight Riders hopes as if Narine’s bowling action change was not enough. The Lions batting line-up can give any bowling combination a run for their money but they need Sir Jadeja and Bravo to turn the table.
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One team that is looking quite well balanced is Kings XI. For a team that won wooden spoon in 2016, they have got to a great start. Daredevils is also turning out to be a formidable side with experienced bowling attack and the youngsters Rishabh Pant and Sanju Samson stepping up to the task in stylish way.
Pandya brothers, Nitish Rana and Bumrah (Mumbai Indians) have once again reinforced the importance of domestic players in IPL and why the overseas player limit should stay. Imran Tahir went unsold in the auction (he is ranked number 1 in T20 world rankings of bowlers sic.) but he has justified his last minute entry in Supergiants team. The absence of Steve Smith bugged them in last match and they direly need Dhoni to fire on all cylinders (he maybe waiting for knockouts or final).
IPL has had the privilege of hosting the greatest players to walk on earth and it has seen many successes and heartbreaks. One hear somebody say that all is fixed, how can it be so close (Mumbai Indians vs Rajasthan Royals in 2014 and that last ball six by Aditya Tare) and then one see the likes of Kohli fighting it out with unparalleled intensity.
Batsmen have showed “Taakat” and “Nazakat” and bowlers are mixing it out (too many dropped catches in first week though). After one week, the teams are still waiting for some players to get fit or get relieved of their national duties and the mystery is still unfolding. Whoever wins it, the winner will be cricket and Chonkpur Cheetahs and ZooZoos (Naam to Suna hi Hoga) will be there to reward them.