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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Miserable Start to IPL 2009 Twenty20

(This entry was originally published on Saturday, April 18th, 2009)

IPL 2009 twenty20 tournament got off to a miserable start today (18 April 2009), despite having lots of hopes and expectations among the cricket fans regarding the second season of IPL. Well, there are still 58 days remaining in the 59-day cricket tournament, but the way IPL has started does not seem the second season will replicate the success of the league’s inaugural season last year. First of all, IPL gave the cricket world a bit of shock when it was revealed that there would not be any opening ceremony and Indian media was totally in the dark about IPL opening ceremony. Well, this is an off field issue, so let us go back to the on-field issues.

Over the last few days, it was reportedly again and again that South African cricket fans are very much excited about IPL 2009 and the first day matches will all be sold out. However, today the reality was something different. I got to know that the day match between Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians saw little crowd in the Newlands stadium of Cape Town which can occupy only 25,000 fans. Though the evening match was better in terms of crowd presence, but it did not, of course, reveal any sign of a sold-out match. There could be two reasons behind it. May be, people bought the tickets, but did not come to the stadium for any mysterious reason, or IPL revealed fake reports regarding ticket selling with a view to catching the attraction of cricket fans in India as well as in South Africa.

Generally, South African wickets favor the bowlers, specially pace bowlers. So, IPL 2009 twenty20 matches may not be as attractive as the 2008 matches, because most of the matches could be low scoring. For example, if you look the two matches of the first day, you can see the bowlers dominated in both the matches and were instrumental behind the winning teams. You do not need to be an analyst to understand that cricket fans generally do not like low scoring matches, and the main attraction of twenty20 format of the game is big hits which could be missing largely during IPL 2009 tournament due to the South African wickets. Wickets in South Africa contain lots of moisture and thus, assist the bowlers to swing the ball. You can also see that both of the first day matches were low scoring.

Moreover, there is another thing which was missing today was the excitement among the cricket fans who were present in the stadium. Cricket fans in Newlands cricket ground seemed they were in picnic mood, and there were no sign of ‘emotional attachment’ among the local cricket fans cricket fans. Here, it is natural that a cricket fan from Cape Town would not have the same felling and emotional attachment for Bangalore Royal Challengers which could be present in someone from Bangalore. Local cricket fans today just came and spent a nice weekend, and thus, showing no feeling of being delighted at boundaries or over-boundaries or fall of wicket. IPL chairman Lalit Modi was earlier delight to announce that about 4000 cricket fans from India would visit South Africa to enjoy IPL 2009 tournament. My question is that if the presence of 4000 Indian fans is enough to make the tournament a success story when there is no interest among the local fans?

A few days back, IPL chairman Lalit Modi said that FIFA should learn from IPL when it comes to event hosting. Modi seemed to have claimed self-acclaim while stating that FIFA should learn from IPL how to organize a world class tournament in a short notice. Here, I would like to ask Mr. Modi that if a world class sporting event could be possible without an opening ceremony? I hope, Mr. Modi was not suggesting FIFA to feature no opening ceremony for world cup football from now on! Here, I would like to mention that ICL, which BCCI disapproves, did always stage an opening ceremony at the start of the season. Overall, I am not very much optimistic about the success of IPL 2009; in fact, the way IPL 2009 has got underway is forcing me to remain pessimistic regarding IPL 2009 twenty20 tournament.

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