IPL Fever Returns
With the expected finish to the Cricket World Cup 2015, it’s time for the cricketing fraternity to shift focus to one of the most cash-rich event. With its glamorous opening ceremony featuring top Bollywood stars and sports icons the festival period surely arrives in India. The defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders took on Mumbai Indians at their home ground Eden Gardens to kick-start the IPL 8.
Eight teams will compete with one another at 12 different venues across India to clinch the mega trophy and handsome prize money. Unlike last year, this year the prize money has increased and only those teams will get the prize money that come in first four places, i.e. Winners (INR 150 Million), Runners-up (INR 100 Million), Third (INR 75 Million) and Fourth (INR 75 Million).
After pulling off a controversy-free tournament last year, the organisers would again be hoping for a smooth run. In 2013, the event was marred by a spot-fixing scandal, which is still quite fresh in memory. Hence, the Indian Premier League (IPL) organisers will look to ensure that the focus remains firmly on cricket only. The early years witnessed several teething problems, which in a way turned out to be beneficial as all the teams (teams and organising committees) had to undertake corrective measures to keep the show going on smoothly. On the administration side, the BCCI had its issues with franchises but most of them were resolved in an appropriate manner.
The slap gate controversy, Red Corner issued by ED to Commi-ssioner Lalit Modi, misappropriation of funds, harassment charges on players, rave parties and removing a franchise for not submitting the fees were some earlier controversies with the IPL. But, it’s not just a controversy league it is an opportunity for young and out-of-form seniors to make a comeback in the national squad. While players like Sanju Samson, Manish Pandey, Rahul Sharma and Shadab Jakati are looking for their opportunity to play for India and cement their place, senior players like Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan and Robin Utthapa are looking to make a comeback.
However, the challenge for the cricketers who perform will be to find ways and means to be consistent as the T-20 format demands that players constantly think on their feet. The rapid pace and the sequence of games in the IPL can test the emotional-management skills as well, as there are bound to be a lot of ups and downs, collectively and individually. Besides, they are up against the leading players in international cricket, which means that they have to upgrade their technical and mental skills regularly.
According to former India opener Virender Sehwag, “It’s a good thing for Kings XI Punjab that the players who played and performed really well have been picked by their country for the World Cup and to play for their country. IPL is a good platform for youngsters to play well and perform and get a chance to play for their country.” The biggest beneficiaries of the IPL are the players who are given a great platform to get noticed.
Not only does the IPL give established first-class cricketers from most Test-playing countries an opportunity to catch the eye of the selectors, it also gives unknown players a chance to display their talent and get into the top brass. Players like Steve Smith and Eoin Morgan who captained their respective countries in the recently concluded World Cup are the crop of IPL. “Given where I’m at the moment, I think the IPL is the best thing for me,” Morgan said.
However, the excitement and thrill of IPL is at its best still there is one part vacant since its start. The involvement of Pakistani players in IPL would become a complete recipe of entertainment. It’s well known that Pakistani players and board have requested Indian board for the participation of their players. But, franchises do not want to risk the security of Pakistani players.
The chairman of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Shaharyar Khan said that the Indian Board has said that the franchises want to have Pakistani players—crowd pullers like Shahid Afridi—but they don’t for fear of security. The concern of the franchises is that the majority of the crowds in India are not favourable to Pakistani players and they fear security issues. It is a well-known fact that many Pakistan players like Shahid Afridi, Kamran Akmal, Shoaib Malik and others have wished to play in IPL earlier.
Whatever be the fortune of Pakistani players regarding IPL, the fact remains that it is a festival in India and crowd will enjoy their heroes in action. Also it is a good time to find new heroes, some unseen talent and unheard names that will be going to rule the international cricket ahead. A controversy-free IPL is what all the fans are looking for, yet the heat and on-field drama will spice up the contest in the middle. Whosoever be the winner of this season of IPL we all wish cricket will be clean and it will promote and produce real talent.
“Irrespective of whoever is in charge of IPL, one of the most important things is that we need to have stricter laws that deal with issues like match fixing, spot fixing. And there should be consequences when people make mistakes and are proven guilty,”
— Rahul Dravid
Former India Captain
“I know one thing, irrespective of what is there, when it comes to Indian cricket, my name keeps popping up. Now that this has been settled, something new will pop up. It keeps popping up. I am quite used to it”
— MS Dhoni
By Sorabh Aggarwal