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IPL 13: Curtains of 'bang-bang' cricket rise in UAE

Much to the jubilation and respite of cricket-hungry connoisseurs, hopelessly locked down by global Corona pandemic

IPL 13

Sentinel Digital Desk

Gautam Ganguly

Much to the jubilation and respite of cricket-hungry connoisseurs, hopelessly locked down by global Corona pandemic, the BCCI administrators, responding to the growing aspirations, have organized the thirteenth edition of IPL to be held simultaneously in three stadiums in United Arab Emirates from September 19. While finalizing the much- hyped 'bang-bang version', the IPL governing body has snapped its contacts with 'VIVO', the Chinese based company that had sponsored IPL, 2019, thereby displaying unity and solidarity with teeming millions of Indians harbouring intense anti- Chinese sentiment nay 'Sino-phobia' in the wake of its provocative actions in the Indo-China border.

Consequently, departing further from the customary practice of searching for multi-national companies like 'Pepsi' for the money-churning bonanza, the IPL Governing Council's bid to look for Indian companies as sponsors has yielded positively. The BCCI has announced 'Dream11,' a Mumbai based Indian company, as the new 'Title Sponsor' of the 2020 edition of the IPL. With companies like 'Tata Motors', 'Unacademy' and 'CRED' coming forward as partners, the 'IPL-2020' can be dubbed as out and out an ' indigenously financed' tournament to be held in the eco-friendly UAE, one of the world's fast growing sports hubs.

In the menacing backdrop of sky-rocketing of Covid-19 cases hovering beyond five millions in India with last one million reached in a record eleven days, the IPL matches providing three hours of unscripted thrill and entertainment are perfect panacea to the psychologically distressed aficionados of cricket.. Riding on the popularity of multi-media and media -machine backed up by scanty-dressed cheer girls, the IPL has transformed cricketing ethos diametrically. To quote Ram Chandra Guha, the Bangalore based social scientist and historian, ' IPL's mesmerizing capacity has taken the game to its pinnacle of popularity and is a truly an inspirational sport in rural India'.

The concept of Indian Premier League mooted from the concept of English premier football league had proved to be a ravishing success commercially for the franchises ever since its launching in the year 2008. The suspense filled, exciting encounters coupled with tremendous competitiveness exhibited by a conglomeration of celebrated players from across the world together with the local talents have resulted in huge attendance in the stadiums besides millions of connoisseurs watching the games on Television sets.

The phenomenal stride made by IPL since its inception is astounding and mind blowing' In the year 2008, total viewership was estimated to be, 3,422,347 (58,006 per match) . By, 2019, attendance had quadrupled.

As per viewership data shared by broadcast rights holder Star India, a whopping 462 million viewers watched the 12th edition of the league on Star network channels between March 23 and May 12th. The reach of the tournament had gone by 12% compared to previous season.

To quote Ian Chappel, ' the T20 has quickly become South Asia's biggest sporting event, filling stadiums and attracting global TV audiences well beyond the appeal of Test and one-day competitions in the cricket-mad subcontinent."

The changes that have occurred in the game of cricket to suit the requirement of a modern, hectic life style are somewhat akin to the transformations that have taken place in the realm of literature. Time was when the readers had enough time to read the immortal writings like the gems of William Shakespeare that run into several hundred pages. Other great literary works like Milton's 'The Paradise Lost', Hemmingway's ' A farewell to Arms' , to name a few classics, are long. Gradually, industrialization and commercialization, increasing indispensability of internet, burgeoning popularity of social net working sites etc have brought unprecedented diversification in human life. As a logical corollary, readers hard pressed with time, seem to have developed penchant for short stories, crisp writings that pen-picture slice of life without compromising on literary quality.

The intelligent ICC administrators realizing the changing mood and taste of the aficionados have been championing the cause of result-oriented limited over cricket. Unlike the five day long test matches often ending in tame draws, the shorter version of the game , known as 'instant cricket', ensures that the paying public goes out at the end of the game having enjoyed the 'essence' of cricket and its all-round brilliance with one team clearly emerging as victorious. Like slice of life , it is the slice of cricket with all its magnificence.

The stage is all set for the onset of nearly two month-long excruciating, competitive ' mega-show at far off ' Gulf' where eight tough franchise teams will lock horns to hog limelight. Covid-19 induced social distancing norms have not permitted spectator attendance in any national and international games so far. How far the players will be galvanized and charged up without the cheering of spectators remain a Million Dollar question.!! However, there will be no dearth of viewers since all 'IPL-2020 games' will be broadcasted and -steamed live in as many as 120 countries. !!

Since IPL 2020 could be the 'Swan song' of 'Captain cool', his legions of admirers would expect blitzkrieg from Dhoni. In the same breath, we hope and pray that this IPL could be the stepping stone of success for talented Riyan Parag,, playing for RR.

"Necessity is the mother of invention", goes the saying. Human needs together with human cravings to explore the unknown have contributed in enriching the civilisation of the world. Hopefully, BCCI's ingenuous decision to hold IPL-2020 outside India, considered safe from Covid -19 perspective, meets with success bringing mental relief to beleaguered sports lovers. .

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