The Champions League Twenty20 (CLT20) which kicks off today with the qualifying matches in Mohali is a tournament that was conceived as one for the champion sides, meant for winners of ‘domestic’ competitions such as the Indian Premier League (IPL). However, there has been no real buzz around the CLT20 compared to the support fans have provided to the IPL and other similar franchise leagues. Thus, the tournament could have done without the negative publicity surrounding Faisalabad Wolves. Pakistan’s champion T20 side was struck in uncertainty as it appeared that political tensions would scupper their hopes of getting visas. And they finally land to play the qualifying matches — forced to travel from Lahore to Mohali via Dubai instead of taking the shorter road route — only to discover they cannot stay in the hotel in Chandigarh due to technical issues with their visa.
However, the tournament — main round matches run from September 21 to October 6 — will hope to surmount other more serious issues. It was forced to shift matches out of Hyderabad due to the unrest caused by the Telangana issue. Whether it draws bigger crowds this time it will depend on the response in a smaller city like Ranchi. Its biggest challenge, however, will be to overcome the effects of the spot-fixing scandal that shook this year’s IPL edition. Although the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has handed punishments to four players and announced extra security measures to insulate players from any approaches by shady characters, security agencies will be keeping a close watch on every minor detail to ensure the action taken has had a salutary effect on everyone concerned with the tournament.
The tournament will be the T20 swansong for Sachin Tendulkar while Rahul Dravid, shaken by the spot-fixing focus on Rajasthan Royals, the team he leads, is also expected to call it a day. But this CLT20 edition will show whether the event has the resilience to push forward, which is, at least, not indicated by the winners’ purse.