I have had the unfair advantage of reading Navin Khemka’s entire article (abridged version below) and those of several others, before writing this. But more than being a reader of the more informed analyses, I am a consumer of what for many is the most exciting form of the game. And my reasons for looking forward to IPL are many.
The mood is right, for starters. India is leading the test series against the Aussies 3-0 and there is one more test match left. A last day, one-day like finish to the third test, Dhoni’s domination with the bat earlier, the fastest test century ever on debut by Shikhar Dhawan, and more. Several popular players who will feature in the IPL have been in the news, are part of new campaigns by brands, and there have been no scandals of any kind – so far.
If one looks at the teams, defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders have Gautam Gambhir, who needs to make a point to the selectors. Australian fast bowler James Pattinson has troubled India fairly well in Indian conditions to suggest that he’d chip in as KKR look to retain their trophy. The racy Brett Lee who became ‘Pet Lee’ recently will keep the female audience hooked, if not anything else.
Kings XI Punjab’s Adam Gilchrist will be a refreshing sight after long, especially after his national team’s disastrous showing against India.
Pune Warriors’ Yuvraj Singh has been on a high ever since his return after a high profile battle against illness. His charisma will overshadow the corporate war that Sahara is playing out, and ensure that the team is buzzing. Not to forget Indian medium pacer Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, who will look to build on his test match outing against Australia.
The Chennai Super Kings could create buzz for the team’s captain alone, on the back of India’s series win. Suresh Raina will want to make some runs, while R Ashwin and Murali Vijay are revelling on field in India colours.
The new team in Hyderabad, Sunrisers, has in its fold the man of the moment - Shikhar Dhawan. He will be expected to retain the buzz with some more blistering knocks. Kumara Sangakkara and his ongoing exploits against Bangladesh, and Dale Steyn, whose South African team has taken Pakistan on a safari of sorts, will add to the buzz.
Delhi Daredevils’ Virendra Sehwag, like KKR’s Gambhir, has a point to prove after being dropped from the Indian Test team. Englishman Kevin Peterson is scoring against New Zealand now, while upcoming star Unmukt Chand will be watched very closely.
Virat Kohli is in lilting form in the shorter form of the game, and will be expected to hold fort for Royal Challengers Bangalore. It is unlikely that Chris Gayle will not create a storm or two with his bat too.
Sachin Tendulkar’s absence from one-dayers has kind of increased the appetite to see the master in action in shorter formats. His counterparts Ricky Ponting, Kieron Pollard, Lasith Malinga and Harbhajan Singh, are all people one would watch irrespective of the teams they play for.
Rajashtan Royals’ Rahul Dravid will wield the willow after long, and his loyal fans have much to look forward to. Team mate Shane Watson will have done his homework. Sreesanth will be yet another familiar face that even those not following the League closely will recognise for his cricket, despite his off-field antics.
Did anyone say IPL is not really about cricket? Nothing can overshadow the cricket viewing experience that those named here (and others) will deliver over eight weeks.
It helps though that the after-work appointment viewing begins with an opening ceremony at a budget of Rs 25 crore according to media reports (a 25 per cent hike from last year), with Shah Rukh Khan at the helm of affairs. The procession planned in the city of joy will be a befitting beginning to our cricket carnival.
Gokul Krishnamoorthy,editor, Campaign India