As Kolkata Knight Riders and Delhi Daredevils battle it out today in the first IPL match of Season 6 at Eden Gardens, Kolkata, there is a distinct sense of cool spectatorship, a far cry from the IPL fever that had been plaguing the country ever since T20 matches began in 2008. Does it spell a decline for the ‘quickie’ matches, or do people continue to enjoy and support their favourite cricketers, despite their constant team jumping?
Chandigarh-based actor and documentary filmmaker Jasraj Bhatti, who captained his school’s cricket team at St John’s High School, Sector 26, Chandigarh, and represented the Under-14 Chandigarh Cricket Team at the district level, says, “For me, cricket means Sachin Tendulkar.
Since my school days, I have been following cricket religiously. In fact, I would dress up in cricket gear even while watching a match. Being a sportsperson, I feel that T20 matches don’t let cricketers develop the stamina and consistency required for test matches. Though T20 matches have given ordinary players a big platform to perform, these aren’t the real test of talent.
I watch IPL only for the sake of Sachin, so I favour Mumbai Indians.”
Actor-singer Ayushmann Khurrana, another Chandigarh boy, has also avidly played cricket when he was a student at St John’s High School and represented Panchkula in the Under-19 Chandigarh Cricket Team.
“As is the case with cinema, where mass entertainers such as Rowdy Rathore and Housefull make money while real cinema lovers prefer movies such as Kahaani and Paan Singh Tomar; a purist like me likes to watch test matches and ODI (One Day International) matches rather than IPL. In fact, IPL is an amalgamation of Bollywood and cricket, which is why it has a huge fan following,” he says, adding that he only watches IPL for his love for Sachin Tendulkar, which makes Mumbai Indians his favourite team.
However, for Punjabi actor Gavie Chahal, the quick-result producing T20 matches continue to interest him. A former sportsperson, Gavie has played cricket as an Under-19 state player
for Patiala and played Kabaddi at the national level while in college.
He says, “I really like the T20 format, for it is well suited to our fast paced lives in which we believe in hasty results. Just like cinema is for entertainment, IPL is cricket’s entertainment.” Where personal favourites are concerned, Gavie prefers Yuvraj Singh, Adam Gilchrist and Chris Gayle, though he feels having a favourite team isn’t possible in IPL, where teams keep changing their players.
Similar is the case with actor Sonu Sood, who loves the IPL format. “The pace and concept of the game is what attracts me. Being a Punjabi, I have an obvious inclination towards Kings XI Punjab, so I am waiting to see how they perform. Otherwise, ODI matches are my preference,” he says.
For those who look forward to IPL, it is mostly because of their loyalty to towards their favourite cricket players and the quick results that these matches bring. For model-actor Arjan Bajwa, T20 is challenging. “I have always been a sports enthusiast and still play cricket whenever I get time.
I am a big supporter of Mumbai Indians and do not miss any IPL season. The T20 format has a gripping appeal unlike test matches, which are slow and boring. Every year, my world stops for the two months when IPL is on,” he avers.
The coming of international cricket players to IPL teams is another reason for cricket lovers to love IPL, who get to see them in action along with their Indian favourites.
Affirms Angat Singh, 21, a resident of Sector 18, Chandigarh, “I used to watched IPL for Saurabh Ganguly. But this year, he isn’t playing for any team, so even though I would be rooting for Kings XI Punjab since its our home team, I would miss watching Saurabh on the pitch. IPL is a very interesting concept that gives players from every country a chance to play in India and strengthen their relationship with Indian cricketers, which is a sign of growth.”