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IPL 2017: Virat Kohli & Co. absent but officials dismiss concerns over interest

The Indian Premier league (IPL) 2017 has seen several top players including Virat Kohli getting affected by injuries. But that will not act as a deterrent for fans, according to top officials

ipl 2017 Updated: Apr 03, 2017 21:13 IST
Khurram Habib
Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Virat Kohli will miss quite a few matches in the Indian Premier league (IPL) 2017.
Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Virat Kohli will miss quite a few matches in the Indian Premier league (IPL) 2017.(PTI)

There will be stars lining up when Sunrisers Hyderabad take on Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2017 Indian Premier League’s (IPL) opening game on Wednesday night, but the biggest crowd-puller, Virat Kohli, will be missing.

The Indian skipper is recuperating from a shoulder injury suffered in the Test series against Australia and has been ruled out of the IPL’s initial phase. R Ashwin, M Vijay and KL Rahul could miss the entire tournament alongside foreign players Mitchell Starc, Dale Steyn, Mustafizur Rahman, JP Duminy and Quinton de Kock. Umesh Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja will sit out at least the first two games.

But officials don’t expect the dip in star power will matter. “Look, we have had IPLs in the past where top players were missing. Although this is an unprecedented situation where so many top players are out, you have to allow them to recuperate. They got injured doing national duty, so we can’t force them to play,” says Rajeev Shukla, the Indian Premier League chairman.

Read | IPL 2017: From Virat Kohli to Quinton De Kock, injured XI who’ll miss the action

Asked about the absence of big names, Shukla said, “I don’t think there will be any lack of interest.”

Franchises also say the absence of top players won’t impact the league much. “You can’t do anything about the injuries,” said Delhi Daredevils CEO, Hemant Dua. “But there are still plenty of stars who will make the league attractive, worth following.”

When the new IPL cycle begins next year, one of the headaches for BCCI, already shaken by changes recommended by the Lodha Committee, will be related to broadcasting rights.

Read | Injuries to Virat Kohli & Co not an advantage: Mumbai Indians’ Mahela Jayawardene

As per reports and sources, the BCCI expects to bag an almost two-fold rise in TV rights fees. However, the broadcasters could suffer losses if revenues remain stagnant. It is said the current broadcaster earns only a 15-20 % profit. This season, with stars missing, returns could take a further hit.

After a heavy home season, India are due to play abroad post-IPL till 2018-end, with little cricket at home or in the subcontinent. Managing injuries thus will be crucial.

The loss of cricket due to injury won’t affect India players monetarily as the BCCI has insured their contracts, but the league could lose its pre-eminence.

A recent trend has also seen foreigners pull out of the IPL more readily than in the past. It perhaps shows foreign boards are putting their foot down trying to save their players from burnout. Also, every country or region has begun to have a league of its own.

Mustafizur Rahman, for instance, wasn’t given permission by Bangladesh Cricket Board, the youngest Test nation, to play in the IPL.

“I don’t think it is that big an issue. All this talk of sponsors being cagey is nonsense,” said Shukla.