The stadium is jam packed. Dale Steyn is running in to bowl. Steyn is Steyn- the beast. His run up to the bowling crease is like a predator getting ready to hunt down his prey. Gentle watchful at start. Slowly gathering momentum and then sudden burst of adrenaline resulting in a vicious ferocious speedy delivery which is aimed at the batsman with two intentions. Either to get him out or knock him out. The crowd rises with the every step of his. He bowls a perfect yorker. The batsman is almost done here. But wait….What the hell was that. The batsman goes on his right knee, bends down and scoops the ball over the fine leg fence for an outrageous six. The batsman smirks, Steyn wears an expression of disbelief. The crowd is going berserk. The batsman walks down to the bowler after the end of the over and pats him on the back.
The batsman in this case is Mr. 360 AB De Villiers.
Don’t even think this is a scene from a South African net practice. AB vs Steyn.
This is a match of RCB vs Sunrisers Hyderabad in Chinnaswamy Stadium Bangalore. This is IPL. Where friends become foes and foes become friends for 45 days.
When MSD was lifting the first ever T20 World Cup Trophy in 2007 in South Africa. Lalit Modi was chalking out plan of something big in New Delhi. On 13th September 2007 in a high profile event, Lalit Modi and BCCI announced IPL and cricket was never the same after that.
Cities were bought, players were sold for whopping amounts. Millionaires were born. Cricket never saw this kind of money. Fat pay checks signed by even fat owners. Some called it a circus while some claimed it to be a one-time wonder, flash in the pan and what not.
But IPL was here to stay. You can love IPL, you can hate IPL or you can pretend that you hate IPL even though u secretly love it like most of the English cricketer’s do. But one cannot ignore the impact that IPL had on world cricket.
The most telling and important impact is money.
For many years cricket went through a patch where player’s needed to look for other sources of incomes after their retirement from cricket. Players were rich only till they played cricket. IPL changed that completely. Players were getting more money for playing 45 days of cricket than they used to get after playing for a whole year for their country.
Money came so came the controversies. Loyalties were questioned. Club vs country debate heated up. And till there is IPL, this will never stop. IPL had its own share of controversies too. Biggest was spot fixing scandal which lead to ban on CSK and Rajasthan Royals for 2 years. Everybody thought that IPL was done and dusted then and there. But then, its cricket, its India. Cricket don’t stop in India. Cricket runs India. IPL shrugged away the controversy and came back like nothing happened.
Second thing IPL did was it brought together players from different countries, different cultures under one roof. It also turned country teammates into rivals. Where else in the world you will see AB and Virat batting together plundering runs for fun. Nobody ever imagined chants of David Warner in Hyderabad. And who thought that Harbhajan and Symonds will be hugging each other on the ground.
Bravo became a Tollywood hero and Malinga became a Mumbaikar. David Miller became Davindar Miller. AB de Villiers became more popular in India than Indian cricketers. Cricket broke border barriers. Cricketing world transformed into a family for those few weeks.
What IPL also did was it transformed India and BCCI from a strong cricketing nation to a powerhouse of world cricket. Money flooded in the BCCI accounts. This same board who requested Lata Mangeshkar to sing in a concert to raise funds in order to reward 1983 World Cup winning team is now richest cricketing body in the world. Star Sports won the broadcasting rights for 5 year’s by virtue of their humongous bid, 16347 Crores. Yes you heard that right, 54 cr per match, 1.36 cr per over will pay BCCI.
BCCI became cricket’s necessity. Everybody wants to be in BCCI camp. IPL is a brand now. One of the richest sporting league in the world. It has put India in an elite club of nations who runs a cash rich sporting league.
And finally, the most important contribution of IPL to India and world cricket is giving a global platform for the youngsters to prove their metal in front of pack crowds. Fittingly its tagline suggests “IPL- Where Talent Meets Opportunity”
Players like Manish Pandey, Sanju Samson, Rishabh pant announced their arrival in style in IPL and they never looked back.
Shane Watson who was nowhere near of Australian team became its integral part after his heroics at Rajasthan Royals. India’s spin wizard R Ashwin came in limelight after having fabulous season for CSK. Players like Pravin Tambe, Sarafaraz Khan, Mohammed Siraj, who never ever imagined of even playing for their state teams became household names. IPL became a bridge between Indian public and cricket. 1.2 billion People in India and millions around the world eagerly awaits IPL. In these few weeks their loyalty swings from their city to the city their favourite player is playing.
To conclude, IPL is not flawless. It has its own loopholes like every other league. And IPL is not test cricket too. It’s not the game’s best and toughest format. But T20 is here to stay. T20 will be the face of cricket to the non cricketing countries who don’t know what “Follow on” is and what do you mean by “seeing off the new ball.” So you can criticise IPL and T20 cricket. But the change it brought to the cricket cannot be forgotten. While test cricket will always remain the pinnacle of this game, a big brother of this game. One cannot deny that IPL is a small baby taking giant steps.
So lines are drawn. Teams are ready. From 7th April, Abdul will support orange and Deepak will support green. For a change India will forget its numerous religions and cricket will be the ultimate religion. And whole India will wear the colour of their own city. So sit back and enjoy the extravaganza of cricket.
IPL XI is about to begin.
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Writer :- Deu Gaichor
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