~ Oscar Wilde
Sonali Dhulap is one of India's growing legion of young cricket writers. We are delighted that she will be bringing to The Middle Stump her wit and wisdom, making these pages far more glamorous over the summer. Expect more from her when India tour, but in the meantime she gives us the low down on the IPL and what to expect, or not to expect, over the next few weeks. You can follow her on Twitter @pillya...
The Indian Premier League (IPL) is a kind of drug that, perhaps, has been solely created for the purpose of drawing us cricket fanatics into its' world of fake glamour and very little cricket. Sadly, it is not the kind of temptation one can resist. You might criticise it for what it is but with each passing year you get more and more addicted to it. If cricket were a TV series, then IPL is the undisputed 'Game of Thrones.'
Consider this, I have been asked to write this piece for a UK-based blog run by Englishmen, who will probably spend the summer hooked onto county cricket. Do any of their players feature in the league (except for one Mr. Kevin Pietersen,)? No! Yet, here I am abiding by their wishes so that they don't look like the only fools who haven't joined the IPL bandwagon.
By now, you might have read millions of previews, glorifying or demeaning the tournament. The so-called experts and critics might have bombarded you with player names, extensive analysis of each of the teams as well as past controversies. I bet your head is buzzing with a zillion of pictures, graphs, videos, podcasts and other such pish-posh. People will begin with one analysis and end up with a completely different one. But in the end, whoever wins, the real champions will always be the BCCI.
So forget what you have been told so far. Let us rather analyse the facts about why IPL is here to stay and what to expect in Season Seven.
FIVE things that you can MOST CERTAINLY expect this edition:-
Nearly a year has passed yet the dirt of IPL-6 is yet to be washed off. Spot-fixing, betting are NOT going anywhere. We can expect a few more player/bookie/cricket enthusiasts names to pop up this edition too. The follow-up to it on Indian news channels will be even more exciting to follow. Minor players will be suspended, major ones will escape through. Links will be traced all the way to Dubai and what better way to manage things this season when the tournament is itself starting from the very belly of the Underworld.
No IPL is complete without a good deal of controversies. Whether a player will slap a fellow player, a team owner will be banned from entering a certain stadium, the Indian moral police will have a crack at the scantily-clad cheerleaders, fights will break out on the field, players will be arrested at rave parties, someone will molest someone, etc..etc...there is no dearth to the amount of funny nonsense that will emerge from this edition too.
3) (Mindless) Commentary
You know the feeling when two of your favourite countries are playing each other and you look forward to hearing from your favourite commentators but at the same time are dreading the ones who will compel you to swallow poison, hang yourself, lie on a train track, slit your wrists, jump from a skyscraper; all at once? Lo and behold, the IPL is amalgam of the best and worst of the worlds' commentators....more worst than the best. Chuck all the rationality out of the window if you dare to un-mute the television. On the other hand, it is your express ticket to guaranteed laughs.
4) Excessive Advertising
A 'DLF' Maximum or a 'Yes Bank' Maximum, what do you prefer? 'Karbonn' Kamal Catches, anyone? How about the 'Star Plus' Nayi Soch awards? You will be bombarded with so many brands that you will lose count of it. IPL time is a gala time for advertisers in India, you cannot walk two paces on the road without being subjected to something that is related to the league. This year we might see a few more brand names pop up sponsoring all sorts of weird awards.
Yes, those too. There are very sports as unpredictable as cricket. The IPL will shock you alright but be sure to be surprised and awed by it as well. Some obscure player, a name you never might have heard, might disarm you with his technique or charm. Old players, who have retired from international cricket, will reinforce the statement about 'Age being just a number'. A ton of nail-biting finishes, super-overs and some completely sensational performances will remind you why you fell in love with this game in the first place.
|Giant Haystacks gatecrashes the Mumbai Indians party|
FIVE reasons why IPL is more entertaining than (damn) cricket:-
Money might be the root cause of all evil but it can buy you loads of material happiness. The IPL is drenched in money, stinking black money perhaps, but wealth nonetheless. And where there is money, their is power. Rarely will any other form of cricket tournament or league will show you money being utiltized in such a blatant and obnoxious way.
The Board can make of show of banning after-match parties and cheerleaders, but gossip will filter through all channels like water. No one is better at inflating a harmless incident as out of proportion as the Indian media. Hence, every IPL will have more than its' fair share of sleaze and scandals to entertain the masses.
3) Regional Fanatics
Patriotism for ones' country can be so beautifully seen in any international tournament. But, regional fanaticism is more rampant among us Indians. You will see a huge show of fans religiously supporting their states/cities. It will be rivalry at its very best (or shall I say worst). Fights, accusations will break out more frequently. Twitter will be a melting pot of pointless petty quarrels.
|Srini shows us how to bowl the doosra|
Don't shun it, embrace it. With the rising advent of the T20s, youngsters nowadays are freely distancing themselves from Test cricket. In the world of instant results, it is possible that the longest format of the game may wither away, but T20 leagues are here to stay. Even if the number of overs ever reduce, the IPL will mould itself to the situation and evolve accordingly.
5) N Srinivasan
The one thing worth learning from dear old Srini is how to ignore the world and continue doing your own shit. No one can tell him what to do. A man who can challenge even the Supreme Court's (top law body in the country) order of asking him to quit, is not to be taken lightly. You may curse him, but Srinivasan will teach you more about standing your ground in this big bad world better than any other role model in your life.