THE IPL, I daresay, is the biggest thing to have happened to cricket in recent times. You could talk about innovations, coloured clothing, telecasting, one-day cricket and so on but for the sheer scale, commerce and numbers, this is Mount Atlas. Future generations will talk about it as the moment when cricket saw the light.
For die-hard cricket animals like me, it still beggared belief what I witnessed on the streets of Cape Town on Thursday. Fans piled up on the barricades as the eight teams with an eclectic mix of cricket and Bollywood stars, official honchos, corporate czars, rolled out on the roads in open floats. It brought back the memory of the 1992 Friendship Tour. It’s such a pity that the action back home would only be available in the drawing rooms.
Teams will be wiser from previous experience and it’s evident for the kind of mix-and-match they have opted for this year. Mumbai Indians, KKR, Royal Challengers and Deccan Chargers will surely mount an improved challenge. Most will look to gain an early momentum and maximise the presence of international stars who might not stick around for more than three weeks. Players such as Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff will count the most in the first six or seven matches for their teams.
With the ebb and flow of stars, fortunes can change quickly. We saw the upsurge of the Delhi Daredevils in the first edition and then how quickly they faded out. Same was the case with the Knight Riders, whereas the Mumbai Indians’ late charge nearly catapulted them into the semifinals.
This will all add to the suspense, as will be the fact that there is no home camp for any side. New conditions, new challenges and adaptability will be the key. Quite a few young Indians will be touring outside their lair for the first time and it could have an effect.
I see the Delhi Daredevils being a dangerous team this year and I see definite movement from the Mumbai Indians and the Royal Challengers. (TCM)