A riotous mix of light, sound and colour, the presence of a Bollywood superstar, a clutch of cricket's superheroes and a business tycoon marked the spectacular inauguration of the Indian Premier League. Going by the opening show, the strokes unleashed by Brendon McCullum after that and the way the 40,000 present enjoyed most of it, it has to be said that the BCCI's journey towards the "next level of cricket" began in right earnest.
Cheerleaders of the two sides trying to outdo each other, liquor in the corporate boxes and for those with the costlier of tickets and models serving as waitresses in the VIP boxes, cricket's latest incarnation saw many innovations. Sporting shirts of the teams they own, Shah Rukh Khan and Vijay Mallya too couldn't have been disappointed with the first-day first show, at least SRK, because once the cricket began, it clearly wasn’t Mallya’s day.
Being at the Chinnaswami Stadium evening left you feeling that even if you hadn’t witnessed something that might challenge the existence of the longer versions of cricket, it could well be something that could substantially decrease their popularity and sponsorship base. And the opening extravaganza suggested that to survive, one-day cricket may have to think of a different package.
Many will frown, but if people who matter like players, spectators including TV viewers and sponsors start feeling that T20 means a better deal for them, administrators will have a tough time keeping alive the 50-over format. Apart from everything else, the roaring success of the first match raised this question — which only time can answer.
Needless to say that it's too early to ascertain whether the IPL would become a runaway hit and claim its place in the international cricket calendar.
The excitement and eager anticipation that preceded the first match will not be the same in the games to follow, but there again comes the question of waiting.
Friday thus effectively fuelled questions more than answering them. Hopefully, the answers will emerge after this cross-country jamboree over the next six weeks is over.
In an interesting aside, the crowd booed BCCI president Sharad Pawar when he was invited to the dais at the introduction session. The same for Roy Mali, the ICC president.