The business — both literally and figuratively — has begun. However you look at it, the IPL is the most upgraded version of the cricket industry that’s evolved over the years.
And one man who epitomises Indian cricket’s evolution in the last two decades is the Bandra bomber.
In two decades of international cricket, Sachin Tendulkar’s tons of runs have not only won him millions of hearts across the globe but have also played an instrumental role in the in-flow of millions of dollars through sponsorship is the world of cricket.
Thanks to a combination of these factors, it didn’t really come as a surprise when Tendulkar received the biggest ovation from amongst the eight Indian Premier League captains on display at Friday night’s opening ceremony.
But a few hours before that, Tendulkar was busy with what he does the best.
The Mumbai Indians skipper, on the eve of their IPL-III opener against Rajasthan Royals, hit a few lusty blows in the nets at the Brabourne Stadium.
And even if Twenty20 is billed as tailormade for “Gen Next”, it will be this 36-year-old man’s tussle against a leg-spinner who is four years elder than even him that will determine the outcome.
Even purists, who call the IPL a detrimental force, will be tempted to turn on their TVs on Saturday afternoon to watch Tendulkar facing Shane Warne, the Royals skipper.
And those who are interested in raw pace will want to see how Tendulkar and Sanath Jayasuriya, who is expected to open the Indians’ innings, cope against the raw pace of Shaun Tait, who will eventually make his IPL debut after missing out on the second edition due an injury.
These four men will hold the key to the game’s outcome.
The Mumbai Indians coach Robin Singh said on Friday, “This is one format where momentum is very crucial.”
But it remains to be seen whether Tendulkar’s toddlers start off on a good note or Warney’s warriors walk away with an away win.