Conditions will favour technique over power
Just a few weeks ago, I was convinced that the speculation of the IPL moving to South Africa was the product of a mischievous media contingent with too much beer inside them!
But the reality was very different and the tournament has hit the country like a whirlwind. A lot of South Africans didn't understand the enormity of the tournament last year but now, although there is still some bewilderment, we are seeing what it means to those involved.
To some degree, the players need to distance themselves from the razzmatazz and hype that inevitably comes with every game. The Indian players understand the mix between Bollywood and cricket, but the majority of international players don't comprehend the fusion quite as easily.
For them, emphasis must be placed on their performances because that is how they will be judged, not on how popular they are with the public, the celebrities or the owners.
They must remember that they were hired because of their batting and bowling skills.
I'm no expert on showbiz affairs but it would appear that the Kolkata Knight Riders and the Rajasthan Royals are winning the glamour contest at the start, but that does not mean they will win on the field.
I concur with the general belief that the Delhi Daredevils are a well-balanced squad and deserve to be ranked amongst the favourites, but I would be surprised if the Royal Challengers from Bangalore don't remain competitive after their outstanding opening victory against the Royals.
South African conditions, especially at this time of the year, will test the players' all-round skills far more than in India. The pitches will offer both seam bowlers and spinners some assistance while batsmen with the purest techniques will prosper rather than those with raw power. It came as no surprise to see Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid produce the two highest scores on the opening weekend.
An even contest between bat and ball may not be what the IPL hierarchy believes is in the tournament's best interests. Perhaps, they would prefer flat pitches on which batsmen can dominate and power counts for more than finesse. If that is the case, then I must disagree.
I know the conditions and I can assure you that there will be very few scores in the region of 180, let alone 200. An innings of 150 will be closer to a par score and I hope that Indian audiences will share my passion for seeing close contests, which are decided by a combination of batting and bowling skills.