The IPL Bonanza is Eagerly Awaited! | IPL 2020

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The IPL Bonanza is Eagerly Awaited!

Gautam Ganguly | September 18, 2020 21:28 hrs

The author writes on the importance of the IPL 2020 to the world of sport given the current pandemic situation, its massive popularity, viewership, and the sense of relief it will bring to cricket lovers.


Much to the jubilation and respite of both connoisseurs and cricket-hungry fans, all hopelessly locked down by the global Corona pandemic, the BCCI administrators, responding to the growing demands, have organized the thirteenth edition of the Indian Premier League or IPL to be held simultaneously in three stadiums in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from 19th September. While finalizing the much-hyped ‘bang-bang version,’  the IPL governing body has snapped its contacts with VIVO, the China-based company that had sponsored IPL, 2019, thereby displaying unity and solidarity with the teeming millions of Indians harboring intense anti-Chinese sentiment - nay ‘Sino-phobia’ - in the wake of its provocative actions on the Indo-China border.  


Consequently, departing further from the customary practice of searching for multi-national companies like Pepsi for the money-churning bonanza, the IPL Governing Council’s bid to look for Indian companies as sponsors has yielded positive results. The BCCI has announced Dream11, a Mumbai-based Indian company, as the new title sponsor of the 2020 edition of the Indian Premier League. With companies like Tata Motors, Unacademy, and CRED coming forward as partners,  the IPL-2020 can be dubbed as an out-and-out indigenously financed tournament to be held in the eco-friendly UAE,  one of the world’s fast-growing sporting hubs. 


In the menacing backdrop of sky-rocketing Covid-19 cases hovering beyond five million in India with the last one million reached in a record eleven days, the IPL matches that would provide three hours of unscripted thrill and entertainment are the perfect panacea to the psychologically distressed aficionados of cricket. Riding on the popularity of multi-media and media-machine backed up by scantily-dressed cheer girls, the IPL has transformed cricketing ethos diametrically. To quote Ram Chandra Guha, the Bangalore-based social scientist and historian, “IPL’s mesmerizing capacity has taken the game to its pinnacle of popularity and is a truly an inspirational sport in rural India.”  


The concept of the Indian Premier League mooted from the concept of the English Premier Football League has proved to be a phenomenal success commercially for the franchises ever since its launch in 2008. The suspense-filled, exciting encounters coupled with tremendous competitiveness exhibited by a conglomeration of celebrated players from across the world together with the local talents have resulted in huge attendance in the stadiums besides having millions of connoisseurs watching the games on television sets. 


The phenomenal strides made by IPL since its inception is astounding and mind-blowing. In 2008, the total viewership was estimated to be 3,422,347 (58,006 per match). By 2019, the attendance had quadrupled.         


As per viewership data shared by broadcast rights holder Star India, a whopping 462 million viewers watched the 12th edition of the league on Star network channels between March 23 and May 12. The reach of the tournament had gone up by 12% compared to its previous season. 


To quote former Australian captain and now commentator, Ian Chappell, “The T20 has quickly become South Asia's biggest sporting event, filling stadiums and attracting global TV audiences well beyond the appeal of Test and one-day competitions in the cricket-mad subcontinent.”  


The changes that have occurred in the game of cricket to suit the requirement of a modern, hectic lifestyle are somewhat akin to the transformations that have taken place in the realm of literature. Time was when readers had enough time on their hands to read the immortal writings of say, William Shakespeare, that run into several hundred pages. Other great literary works like Milton’s ‘The Paradise Lost’, Hemmingway’s ‘A Farewell to Arms’ to name just a couple of classics, have long bitten the dust. Gradually, industrialization and commercialization, increasing the indispensability of the internet, the burgeoning popularity of social networking sites, etc have brought unprecedented diversification in human life. As a logical corollary, readers, hard-pressed for time, seem to have developed a penchant for short stories, crisp writings that pen-picture slices of life without compromising on literary quality.  


The intelligent ICC administrators, realizing the changing mood and taste of the aficionados, have been championing the cause of the result-oriented limited-overs cricket. Unlike the five-day long test matches often ending in tame draws, the shorter version of the game, known as ‘Instant Cricket’, ensures that the paying public, at the end of the game, goes home having enjoyed the essence of cricket and its all-round brilliance with one team emerging as a clear winner. As the slice of life, it is the slice of cricket with all its magnificence. 


The stage is all set for the onset of nearly two a month-long excruciatingly competitive mega-show at far off ‘Gulf’ where eight tough franchise teams will lock horns to hog the limelight. The Covid-19 induced social distancing norms have not permitted spectator attendance in any national and international games so far. How far the players will be galvanized and charged up without the cheering of spectators remains a million-dollar question. However, there will be no dearth of viewers since all IPL-2020 matches will be broadcast and streamed live in as many as 120 countries. 


Since IPL 2020 could be the swan song of Captain Cool, his legions of admirers would expect the final blitzkrieg from MS Dhoni for his franchise, Chennai Super Kings. In the same breath, we hope and pray that this IPL could be the stepping stone of success for talented batsman (all-rounder actually) from Assam, Riyan Parag, playing for Rajasthan Royals.  


“Necessity is the mother of invention,” goes the saying. Human needs together with human cravings to explore the unknown have contributed to enriching the civilization of the world. Hopefully, BCCI’s ingenious decision to hold IPL-2020 outside India, considered safe from the Covid-19 perspective, meets with success bringing mental relief to the beleaguered cricket lovers.  


(The author is a retired civil servant. The views expressed in the article are his own.)
 

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