The Indian Premier League (IPL) maybe a perfect package for cricketainment – the new-age television mantra. However, even if the cheerleaders, the popular sound tracks and the firecrackers are enthralling, the game remains the same.
“The cricket doesn’t change,” Mumbai batsman Robin Uthappa had told the Hindustan Times on the sidelines of a promotional function earlier in the week. “Once you take the field, it doesn’t really matter what is happening in the stands. All you are concentrating on is the bat and the ball.”
So, as the Mumbai players gear up for their opening encounter of the tournament – against Bangalore at the Wankhede stadium on Sunday – they have more than one concern to ponder over.
Besides skipper Sachin Tendulkar’s fitness, the Mumbai team would also be worried about the ground conditions. Even Tendulkar wasn’t sure how the pitch will behave with the match supposed to start at 8 pm.
“I have never ever played a match starting at 8 pm in Mumbai,” Tendulkar said after the team’s launch on Thursday. “So it remains to be seen whether the new ball moves so late. Usually, even in day-night matches, we start the second innings at around 6.30 (pm) and the ball does a bit. But here, we start with the first new ball at 8 and then the second one will be available at around 9.30, so it would be interesting to see how much movement the bowlers generate.”
The new ball wasn’t the only “interesting” factor for the master batsman. “It also remains to be seen whether the dew factor comes into play,” Tendulkar said.
The Wankhede curator Sudhir Naik felt the dew factor was unlikely to give any side additional advantage.
“Usually the dew doesn’t affect in this period of the year,” Naik, a former Test cricketer, said. “As long as there is a steady breeze, dew is unlikely to affect the game.”
If Naik is to be believed, it's in nature’s hands whether the Wankhede witnesses a thriller on Sunday.