In IPL 2024, upheaval is the name of the game | Crickit

In IPL 2024, upheaval is the name of the game

BySharda Ugra
May 21, 2024 08:06 PM IST

Be it zooming powerplay scoring or the broadcaster facing criticism, this IPL has had its share of turbulent times.

The comms guys are calling this the Incredible League and the Unbelievable League. Upheaval League may also qualify. Upheavals even before opening night, twists, turns, Powerplays on steroid, grounds looking smaller, egos larger, one host broadcaster copping it from two quarters plus displays of owner-temper PR-morphed into ‘storm in espresso cups.’ Yeah right. Those Disneyland scale cups for sure.

There was no shortage of noise around Hardik Pandya's captaincy and Virat Kohli's batting(AFP-PTI) PREMIUM
There was no shortage of noise around Hardik Pandya's captaincy and Virat Kohli's batting(AFP-PTI)

Virat Kohli bossed over the strike rate argument with emphatic slog sweeps, the Hardik Pandya experiment fell splat on its face and Rohit Sharma was not a happy man. The two-bouncer rule melted in the heat of heavy bats, the impact of the Impact Sub was enthusiastically championed by the commentators and gloomily dissed by players with equal fervour. What it could do is show its impact in the T20 World Cup next month but not in a good way.

What could have made for greater upheaval than RCB making playoffs after losing seven of their first eight matches. Here they are, regardless, Mad Max 1979 vibes in Furiosa threads. They are the only team in the playoffs to have not won the title, but have the stars finally aligned so that the men will follow the RCB women? It didn’t even rain much on the night they managed to beat CSK.

RCB are up against OG champions RR who have tripped over their own bootlaces in the last few weeks, but whose cruise control start did enough to seal their place in the playoffs. On the other side, both SRH and KKR seek title No.3, and while everybody loves KKR-SRK, Pat Cummins has officially succeeded Kane Mama as the latest SRH cuddly.

This is only the second of the IPL’s 17 seasons - not counting CSK’s 2016 suspension - where neither CSK nor Mumbai Indians feature in the playoffs. Amidst all these ructions and eruptions, you can be sure the data sets for IPL, and in the future T20International cricket itself, are being radically altered.

To begin with, in a single IPL season alone, my stats gurus tell me, teams have scored at more than 12-an-over in the powerplay (72 or more) in 24 innings. As against 11 last season. In the 15 IPLs prior, the 12-an-over mark was crossed less than three times a season, grand total 39. The average balls per team hundred in 2024 is down to 68, a quarter (33) out of the 132 within the first 10 overs.

What now is an accepted powerplay score? Does the old lose three wickets in PP lose the game still hold? And are there souls in the IPL’s higher echelons who accept that the utterly boring micromini-dissection of replay after replay over no-ball decisions is unfair and ridiculous. For god’s sakes, with clubs for bats and hankies for outfields, T20 should give the damn line to the bowler and be done with the pedantry.

Not enough upheaval for you? Amidst six-hitting celebrations, the impact player freeing up batters' minds and Kohli’s love for the slog sweep, a small reminder that once IPL ends this Sunday, the data flex may not add up to the wins column at the T20 World Cup. Where there are no impact subs. Data, remember, is a throwback to past happenings. No matter how much IPL teams are trying to plot their futures, cricket is too fickle a game to be controlled.

The mismatch between franchise cricket and T20Is will be seen in the upcoming T20 World Cup. Where teams must go in with seven bats among whom some must turn their arm over as slow bowling back-ups. Which is why the Indian team management has reached out to ask franchises to please, for the love of God, make sure that spin bowling options like, as a random example, Shivam Dube and Yashasvi Jaiswal, are regularly given bowling during their IPL practice.

The off-field mis-match upheaval honours belonged to Sunil Gavaskar’s roast of his own broadcast employers until Rohit Sharma stepped up a few days ago. His complaint on X about the breach of privacy by official broadcasters Star Sports. He said, “the need to get exclusive content and focused only on views and engagement will one day break the trust between the fans, cricket and cricketers.” Star have since denied airing the clip.

With two rival broadcasters in this season’s IPL – Star Sports for television and Viacom18 for digital – every match has become the attention economy manifesting itself in overdrive. There are at a modest count at least 50 cameras covering every IPL 2024 match and movement.

The official world feed has 22 manned cameras and ten unmanned cameras – six for HawkEye and four stump cameras. Then there were commentator cameras, on-field duty cameras which add up to about 35 cameras that produce the vanilla feed received by both broadcasters Star and Jio. Who themselves have four cameras, each looking to exclusively support their production and commentators.

These are the cameras that show shots of MS Dhoni behind the glass enclosure of his dressing room, responding to the on-field happenings as the crowd waited for him to emerge onto the field. Or dug out reactions. Or players eating. Or the ‘espresso cup storm’ between the LSG owner and captain. This new layer of focus apparently annoys the Great Thala enormously.

We haven’t finished. There is also a clutch of ‘mini-cameras’ shooting candid star-centric content. These teams support different masters: BCCI/IPL’s own website and social media platforms plus one more each from of the two competing teams. Adding up to a total of at least 50 electronic eyes looking to capture every moment that is seen as worth capturing in an IPL game. Now that Viacom18 has bought over Star India this year, the coming season will not be the TRP-ratings contest race that IPL 2024 was. That’s not to say your attention will not be sought after whoever survives the merger.

There is only one way that IPL 2024 could top the mayhem and drama it has produced over the last five weeks. And that is if RCB win it.

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