Saturday, April 18, 2009

Indian Premier League....2

While the country enters uncertain & speculative times with the beginning of General elections, away in the scenic locales of South Africa, unfolds the colourful extravaganza of cricket…… the Indian Premier League 2…..leading to speculations of its own !!!!!

With focus on the General elections, the Govt had declared its inability to provide with adequate security to the cricketers for the tournament. Forced to look at viable alternatives, outside the country, to ensure that IPL gets underway on schedule, Lalit Modi managed to steal the thunder with aplomb & got the South Africa Cricket Association to host the tournament. What’s more heartening is that back home in India, the cricket crazy nation of more than a billion people would be able to watch the matches Live at timings which perfectly suit them. Matches start at 4.00pm & 8.00pm IST & are Live on Sony TV.
The tournament, a 20-20 format, had been a huge success in its inaugural edition last year, & promises to be more exciting this time around. The lush green & scenic locales of South Africa add to the already colorful & pulsating cricketing extravaganza.
This year, the glam & the glitz has an extra dash, & it was all evident during the opening parade at Cape Town yesterday, where top bollywood actors, rubbed shoulders with the top cricketers of today & yesteryears. The tournament promises to be a high octane contest, with players from all over the world trying to prove their worth & capabilities in this new edition of bam-wham cricket.
The tournament, allows inclusion of ten foreign players per team (selected through an auction) of which only four can play in a particular match. While this brings in top & exciting talent from all over the world, It also adds to the competitive spirit of the game. It also allows young talent from our country to rub shoulders with the best cricketers from all over the world, & learn the game & its nuances immensely.

However, the tournament has already raked a lot of controversy over the last few weeks. At Kolkata Knight Riders, the coach, John Buchanan announced a multiple captain theory, which has not gone well with old timers like Sourav Ganguly(his tryst with controversies continue even after he has hung his boots). The divide in the camp is quite apparent, & it will be interesting to watch how the team performs under this new theory. For the first game its already Brendon McCullum, who will captain the side. Saurav’s comeback trails over the years have been legendary & we sincerely hope that the Prince of Kolkata shows his mettle once again….let’s hope he defies age, fitness & lets his bat do the talking. He has nothing to lose & nothing to prove……but a couple of sublime performance from him at the initial stages of the tournament would certainly set his iconic stature back in shape.
Rahul Dravid….the Wall, has already been dislodged from captaincy at Bangalore Royal Challengers, by Kevin Peiterson, whre Vijay Mallaya is calling the shots. Players like VVS Laxman, Anil Kumble, on whom legends have been written time & again, might find the going very tough to sustain.
Mohammad Kaif, has been dropped from the Rajasthan Royals final team & one of the best fielders of India for all times, & a resolute bat, is already back home….high & dry. It feels sorry to see such a player lose out even in a tournament like this, & it will be incredibly difficult for him to scale back to the national squad from now on.
The absence of the Pakistani players in the tournament is sad. Sohail Tanvir, Shoaib Akhtar, Kamran Akmal, Salman Butt, Umar Gul........all stars in thier own rights, could have added so much to the lustre of the tournament.
The same could be said of the Australian players as well, who have also decided to give this edition a miss. The Hussey brothers, Ponting, Lee, Tait, Clarke.......all would be sorely missed. Its now left to the retired oldies like Hayden, Gilchrist, Mcgrath, & out of team Symonds to set the playing grounds on fire........lets hope they continue to entertain......timeless champs as they are.

The tournament has a mouth watering opening clash today at Cpe Town, the 18th April’09 between Mumbai Indians, led by ageless Sachin & Chennai Super Kings, led by Dhoom Dhoom Dhoni. This is followed by Rajasthan Royals, current Champions led by the mercurial Shane Warne & Bangalore Royal Challengers, led by explosive Kevin Peiterson.
All the eight teams are quite balanced in strength & the month long tournament should give reasons to cheer for all & sundry……While Kolkata Knight Riders need to shrug off their controversies & fire at will to create any impact, the Rajasthan Royals might find it real tough to retain their title. Bangalore Royal Challengers would need to come out of their ‘test team’ mindset and tag & the Deccan Chargers would have to come up with performance justifying their potential. While the Delhi Daredevils & the Punjab Kings are expected to light up the tournament with their explosive games, the cool & calculated Chennai Super Kings & Mumbai Indians look almost certain to make it to the last four… least on paper.

I guess, Indian roads all over would have substantially reduced traffic on roads, as people would be glued to TV either at home or popular joints or multiplexes…….Sony TV, various Sponsors, related businesses, travel & tourism, all rake incredible Moolah, as recession seems to have lost its battle to this cricketing extravaganza….
It will be interesting to see over the next few weeks, who gets wider coverage on media, both print & electronic….. the Elections or the IPL……Lait Modi has indeed set the ball in motion. ‘Ek Desh Ek Junoon’….the mood seems to be fast catching up……

Keep viewing this space for interesting & 'below the line analysis' of the games ahead….
May the best team win.