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Bittersweet scenario

India players happy that the league is on, but say will miss the exhilarating home atmosphere, reports Anand Vasu.

cricket Updated: Mar 24, 2009 01:54 IST
Anand Vasu

Far away from the frantic negotiations between the Indian cricket board and the government, out of touch with the talks between the cricket boards of England and South Africa, India's cricketers spent Monday afternoon raiding their favourite designer stores in Auckland. But they're still keen to know just what is going to happen with the Indian domestic tournament that has turned into a global affair.

The one common thread was that the players were happy that the tournament was going to take place, even if it meant that it left Indian shores. "Obviously the Indian public would have liked to have the IPL played in India. I'm sure the authorities must have tried but it's not workable. I guess we have no choice at this moment," said Sachin Tendulkar, captain of the Mumbai Indians.

"It's obviously going to be different. In India it's about home games and away games," explained Tendulkar. "Right now, looking at the itinerary, either in England or South Africa, everything is going to be an away game. It really doesn't matter where you play, everything is going to be an away game."

Delhi Daredevil Gautam Gambhir said he would miss the support of ardent Delhi fans but that the IPL would give the players a chance to acclimatize to conditions in England - if it is played there - ahead of June's Twenty20 World Cup. "We would have loved to play in India and spend some time with family. Especially, if you're playing in India, in Delhi, there's a lot of support for the home team," said Gambhir. "In a way playing in England will be almost like playing in India since you have a lot of Indians and Asians there. But they will not all support Delhi, each one will have his own favourites and you don't quite know who they're going to support."

Yuvraj Singh, who leads Kings XI Punjab, almost echoed Tendulkar's words. "It's a mixed bag of feelings. We were looking forward to playing in front of our home crowds but now we have to play away," said Yuvraj. "You feel sad for Indians who were looking forward to watching the IPL. But then again there are Indians around the world in places like America who can't make it to India, but maybe they can come to England."

Yuvraj also indicated that teams would overcome the lack of a home-and-away system. "As it is, because of the security situation we were going to play some games in neutral venues in India," said Yuvraj. "Because it's such a popular tournament, it has to happen, that's why it's happening overseas."

Mahendra Singh Dhoni declined to comment but his Chennai Super Kings team-mate L Balaji felt that the fans back home would follow the tournament keenly on television. "It's like the Indian team on tour. There is a fan following abroad and even when we come to places like New Zealand those back home also make sure they watch the games on TV," said Balaji. "It's quite depressing in that we won't have home matches. But at least the IPL is making the tournament happen. It's just that the fans will have to watch all the fun and action on TV instead of being a part of it at the grounds."

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