First a warning: Reading this column may be injurious to the health of those who believe IPL is the greatest sporting event India has ever ventured into. I am no cheerleader, nor intend to be one. Having said that, I am no spoilsport either, and nor do I grudge people their evening dose of entertainment lit up by film stars going through a gamut of real emotions which enhance their thespian status and make an adoring fan’s life complete.
Nor do I grudge new converts to the cricket field, who find this showering of sixes and fours in a condensed format much better than waiting for hours on end before even a single is scored.
This is no fight between the purist and the hedonist, nor a critique of corporate greed and the imaginative skills of a marketing man who can sell even poison as if it was the elixir of life.
I too have looked forward with anticipation to an evening well spent, with last year’s tournament having acted as an appetiser and made me a gluttonous beast.
Alas, I am still hungry as the feast dished out so far has been insipid, and if I may take the liberty to say so, I am not in a minority here.
There could be many reasons for this. In the first place a complete disconnect, a feeling of being cheated.
It somehow does not jell to be watching an Indian League being played in a foreign country, with the half filled, or near empty stadiums and spectators half-heartedly warming up to the action on the ground. The cheerleaders have not set the place ablaze, as they had done in India. And then, there are no thousands responding rapturously to even a twitch of a Shah Rukh Khan muscle.
Poor Shilpa Shetty is still to graduate from a giggling fan into a hard-nosed owner, lessons she must take from Preity Zinta.
The rains too haven't helped! They have not only made us wait endlessly for action but also made batting so difficult that we have ended up watching more wickets fall than sixes being hit.
The contests mostly have been one-sided. The raucous energy, which the stadiums in India resonated with, was so infectious that even we in our drawing rooms would scream and shout, in elation or in despondency, depending upon which side our loyalty lay.
Something serious seems to be missing in action and had Friday not produced a nerve-wracking, pulsating contest between Rajasthan Royals and Kolkata Knight Riders, I may have found it hard to switch from election bulletins to cricket again.
Shane Warne, with his mastery over the rotating ball and a gambler’s imagination, which lends his leadership a distinct vibrancy and captivates the spectator, may have saved this tournament from getting derailed in the very first week itself. Otherwise — as we head into the second week — the abiding image of the IPL may have remained the dog whose antics provided more entertainment than the cricket itself.