IPL 6: The anticipation is palpable
The rise in frequency of Farah Khan ads teaching you dance moves along-with multi-genre group of people splashing colour across your TV screens subtly reminds that the carnival is just round the corner. The gradual transition into the IPL-mode is settling in: electronic and print media are offering the routine previews, foreign players are sounding excited at landing in India and team PR mechanisms are striving to stir up fervour and adumbration!
Yet, you get this feeling of déjà vu leading up to April 3, like the IPL season succeeding the 2011 World Cup. The magnitude of India’s recent success might not be as big as that win, but for followers struggling to find a source of joy in the last 18-24 months, the 4-0 series win has quenched the deep/longstanding thirst. An 8-Test long home series with a couple of ODI series squeezed in between has already left followers spent. The presence of the look-forward-to element might be IPL-6’s biggest test. Not that IPL-6 is arriving unnoticed; it has its share of controversy a couple of weeks preceding it, but the approach isn’t as pompous and grand as we have witnessed previously.
It could be purposeful or merely coincident but every season has brought some novelty alongside; the necessity or the lack of it cannot be generalized. IPL-6 has a new team (or precisely new owners), the first season under the new chairman, a set of recently auctioned players, new title sponsors, few new venues and a couple of fresh faces as broadcast hosts. It would be a matter of curiosity to find whether this tinkering clicks or not.
Player injuries have amputated a couple of sides already. The presence of greater number of afternoon games under the sweltering sun could swell those concerns. A long home season could throw up a couple of sub-standard tracks making for low scoring lopsided contests at certain venues; an aspect which a league primarily based on the quality of cricket doesn’t desire. IPL history suggests that it takes a couple of exciting, close finishes to infuse life into the tournament. With the bracket of consistent teams narrowing down, the number of anticipated rivalries trimming and jaded live action hungry audience, the wait for the season to kick off in the real sense could get longer.
The IPL brand has settled down nicely after an overwhelming initial success. In retrospection you often study cases with time-frames or periodic cycles; for a sport/sportsperson a 4-5 year cycle is often an informative/resourceful quantum of period. If that is indeed the case, IPL-6 is an important event on the IPL timeline, for it forms the core of the 2ndcycle which generally is the part of the performance graph with the negative slope. The stakeholders of the IPL would be aware that this isn’t a season to expect much and would be happy if their respective financial reports record a stable plateau.
The question marks about the longevity of an IPL season arise as every new edition is about to embark. Like always, after the glamour and controversies have their share of limelight, the recurrent anticipation of witnessing Chris Gayle’s breathtaking power, Malinga’s death bowling, Steyn’s mesmerising spells, Dhoni’s ever-so clinical finishes and the creation of an unexpected star glides you through the poignant length of the season’s schedule sheet!