It is that time of the year when you have a ‘Live’ cricket match everyday; it is that time of the year when popular VJs discuss and analyze cricket rather than the familiar cricket hosts; it is that time of the year when you and your friend don’t necessarily cheer for the same side! The IPL is round the corner; promising to be back to its usual self - extravagant and glamorous.
Along with the cricket the big focus would be on whether the brand IPL can revive itself after a below-par performance last season. With a poor international season (for India) preceding and no home matches for the last 4 & half months, the levels of interest and following should be expected to rise; at least better the abysmal stats for last year. The availability of majority of India’s international players should not only encourage the respective sides but also the competition itself.
70-odd matches, 2 months is the extent of this edition. It appears too long to crop up the fatigue factor and bore followers, but like we have seen for the last 4 years that this is not a relevant reason, unless your side isn’t winning! But like a meal to become good, the main course has to be up to the mark; the starters and desserts can add to it but cannot be the main thing! The quality of cricket has been a key to IPL’s success; the equal distribution of talent and ability across all teams ensures that no team starts the tournament as an underdog. IPL-V starts off with a lot of swaps/new buys and redistribution of team compositions. It would be very interesting to see how the teams’ fare with the new look squads and how fans react to these changes.
The bigger picture suggests that this edition of the IPL is an indicative tourney to gauge form and ability leading up to the T20 World Cup; most of the foreign players would be participating with this motive as well. India’s T20 form hasn’t been the greatest since that memorable win in Johannesburg 5 years ago. The selectors, media and the public would be eyeing the IPL from that perspective as well. The Indian players would be competing after a longish international season and even more tiring after the team hasn’t won too much. It would be a test of their fitness physically as well as mentally. The timing of the IPL has been criticized for it occupies the lay-off period for Indian players that it was before the advent of IPL.
Broadcasters, advertisers, investors, team owners and the BCCI would be hoping for a ‘profitable’ season; fans would be hoping for a close season - in terms of results. A glossy opening ceremony is being planned for, but the success of the tourney or the lack of it will ultimately boil down to the competitiveness of the participating teams. This edition has the potential to go both ways - revive itself with the zest with which it began or continue to wear out. IPL-V will have answers to most of these queries, let us sit back and witness how that unfolds!