The year 2008 was a time when the cricket fans in India and abroad was shaken out of their stupor by the exciting launch of a brand new league of cricket which was named the Indian Premier League – IPL. As an avid fan of the shortest version of cricket, the 20 over game or T20, I too was terribly thrilled and yet equally unsure about the launch of this brand of cricket. I knew that sponsorship was a real big deal when it came to cricket, but the kind of brand IPL was turning out to be was well, actually beyond my imagination.
Since the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had founded this league, there was a stamp of authority and approval unlike a few other leagues which has tried to mushroom but died an early death. I was pretty excited to know that international stars from all the major cricketing nations would be part of 8 teams along with the local talent from India. This kind of format was really not a common one, especially on a scale this big and I was hoping that this would be a grand success.
Being from Aamchi Mumbai, I was obviously an unabashed supporter of the Mumbai Indians, who were being led by India’s icon, Sachin Tendulkar. Yet for all reasons, my loyalties were divided since the Indian national team was divided over the 8 teams and each team had one of my favourite cricketers each. Chennai has MS Dhoni, Rajasthan has Rahul Dravid, and Bangalore had Virat Kohli which made life really difficult for an average Indian sports fan inside me. Amongst friends too, we vociferously debated and argued about the strengths and weaknesses of teams and their players.
The schedule for IPL has always been planned so that we Indians could come home from our offices and colleges and schools and get glued to the television. Over the past seven years, IPL has become a permanent fixture in our annual calendar and I have planned many events and functions in a manner where I would not miss my favourite cricketers in action. I too have criticised my favourite cricketers for playing a rash shot at a critical juncture in an important match and vowed not to watch another match ever again, only to find myself plonked in front of the TV every evening without fail.
Yuvraj Singh’s 6 sixes against Stuart Broad in the T20 World Cup had created a tremendous buzz and all expected a repetition of the same during the IPL, which somehow never happened. Marquee players had struggled while unknown players had struck gold, and this was the beauty of this shortest and extremely addictive version of cricket. I was hooked from day one and I must confess I look forward to the months of March-April every year, hoping for an encore from my favourite team.
I was really worried when one particular year IPL had to be shifted to South Africa due to the Lok Sabha elections (what luck) and the cricket fan in me showered my choicest of “blessings” on the politicians of India. With the various issues with the Chennai and Rajasthan team management and sponsors, I only hope things are quickly sorted out and millions of fans like me get to see our favourite cricketers in action in IPL 2016.
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