IPL 2018: A story which will now pause
It has been a good story, and with good stories, there is no end, it is just the place where there is a pause.
IPL 2018 has been a story, make no mistake, it has not been scripted after edits, it has not had actors making sudden entries and then whisking themselves away in a jiffy, but there is a story, one that has enthralled the audiences for 60 days. How can it end, it can just pause.
Perhaps this season has been a melody, and with melodies, the end is never its goal, but then, if this very melody does not reach the end, what purpose will it serve?
After 10 seasons, after several crests, after several troughs, after zooming ahead, after tripping, after getting up again, after floundering, it has been melodious, it has been what the modern world collectively wishes for, it waddles into the scene, flourishes for 60 days, and then meets the end. The purpose is served!
And, yet this 11th season was historic, right from the auctions, to the comeback of two of the former champions, from new captains to external controversies, make no mistake, IPL 2018 has been a story!
IPL is a product which is insanely in love with itself, and while it would have drawn flak in other circles, in this fleeting world, this realisation of your worth has rendered the league an aura, it radiates pride and shoots down detractors who refuse to stick their neck out of their own cocoon.
Say hello to the England board. A reluctant one too occupied with preserving its own ‘sanctity’ has as many as 14 players baring it all in India!
So, what is so unique about this season that it has sprinted away yet again? Despite being dubbed as monotonous, why has 2018 been historic?
For all the smokescreen, glitz and glamour, cricket draws audiences. Players plying their trade to the best of their ability keeps demanding attention, and perhaps this is why this season has been a melodious story.
Cricket has colluded with glamour, cricket has broken free of glamour, cricket was coerced into the allure, cricket was isolated when the games began; this season has been the most-keenly contested tournament in the history of the league, this season has been the most closely fought edition ever.
Yes, equal purse and an open auction can be attributed as reasons, but cricket has broken free and cricket has crafted a stunning story.
The final four teams were not decided till the 15th over of the final league game, nod along, but one week ago, 5 teams were jostling for those four spots.
Sunrisers Hyderabad finished on top with 18 points, Delhi Daredevils languished at the bottom with ten. Contrasting results, but only a difference of eight points. Open your eyes, and now nod along again!
No one was willing to blink, few were forced, few were banished, but no team was willing to throw in the towel. For the first time in 11 seasons, all teams won more than five matches, yes, furrow your eyebrows, take a deep breath, nod along!
There was a time not very long ago when scoring 400 runs in a season was greeted with a standing ovation and people throwing garlands around your head. Fair enough, except this year, seven batsmen have peeled off more than 500 runs. Do not flinch, that nod should get more persuasive, I told you, this story has its own isolated melody.
The top seven run-makers are from seven different teams; before the playoffs, Rishabh Pant wore the orange cap, Andrew Tye clinched the purple one, but Delhi Daredevils and Kings XI Punjab did not make it to the playoffs. An exasperated sigh and hat nod seems to have slowed down?
Royal Challengers Bangalore continue to slip away, Delhi Daredevils continue to turn up when the bus has sped away, Mumbai Indians want to replicate heroics from the past when the rest of the world want to write them off, Sunrisers Hyderabad do not want superstars, they want results, Rajasthan Royals are the black box, take a guess and you might be lucky, Kolkata Knight Riders are the perennial underdogs that bark the most when you doubt them, and Chennai Super Kings might well just sit and wait for other teams in the finals!
Also, a small matter of Star India acquiring the IPL’s global broadcasting and digital rights for a consolidated sum of ₹16, 347.5 crores helped, making sure people tuned in and watched the matches. There were experts, there were former players, there was cricket taking precedence, and cricket has repaid all the faith and how; the qualifier between Chennai and Hyderabad on Tuesday set a new global benchmark with 8.26 million concurrent viewers logging onto Hotstar.
The pattern has been the same, the elements have been different.
It will all be over when the month ends, not the story, but the context, it will all be pushed to a corner for the next 12 months, there will be few mutterings here, few whispers there, but yes, only mutterings and whispers.
So let it pause, for it has been a good story, and with good stories, there is no end, there is just the place where there is a pause.