Just when it seemed like news channels were the biggest source of entertainment on TV, the Indian Premier League (IPL) has taken that place!
TEAMS AND NAMES
During my stay in the US, I was fascinated by the interest people showed in "city-level and school-level games", often, more than international-level games. IPL is (somewhat) doing that for Indian crowds. I mean, who ever proudly wore a Tamilnadu or a Rajasthan jersey to watch their team play in a Ranji Trophy tournament? But again, who ever went to watch a Ranji Trophy match?
But what horrible team names! If Punjab players are Kings, Chennai players are Super Kings. I've heard of emperor, but what is a "Super King" - haha! On second thoughts, it is maybe because "super" (or should I say sooppar)is the most popular adjective used by Thamizh speakers. Bangalore is a team calling themselves "Challengers" and not "Winners" - wah, what modesty! Shittiest name, though, is Mumbai Indians (how come Raj Thackeray isn't demanding they change it to Mumbai Maharashtrians?)
Okay, can't resist this quick PJ: What if Nokia had bought the Hyderabad team and not Deccan Herald? They would then have been called Nokia Chargers - haha!
I would have really liked Indian players to represent their home states, though. It messes with my mind map that Robin Uthappa doesn't play for Bangalore and Harbhajan doesn't for Punjab. I like the fact Muralitharan is playing for Chennai, though :-)
Bangalore Royal Challengers Vs Chennai Super Kings promises to be The Rivalry of IPL, comparable to India Vs Pakistan! Can't wait to see unruly crowds throwing empty water bottles at Hayden and Kallis because the Tamilnadu government decides to pursue the Hogenekkal project! Wow - what fun!
The concept of glamour-cricket is certainly innovative. Almost every team has a star mascot. Instead of Vijay, I wish Trisha was the mascot of the team I support - Chennai Super Kings (I like Trisha in casual wear). And the cheerleaders are definitely doing for IPL what Mandira Bedi did for the World Cup - building true interest in the game, I mean. Would be nice to see more local talent (such as our cinema item girls) instead of imported girls doing the same aerobic routines to both Bhangra and Dappaankuthu.
The funniest shock was when the Delhi Daredevils were playing their first match, and someone suddenly flew into the stadium hanging from a cable! Just when I couldn't believe that streakers in sports events had gone so hi-tech... Akshay Kumar!!
Regular people like you and me play book cricket, stick cricket, and fantasy cricket. People like Shah Rukh and Preity Zinta play their own teams!
It is amazing to see some interesting face-offs like Shane Warne Vs Monkeyman, Jayasuriya Vs Murali etc. Also to see Team India players face off against each other. Not the way Sreesanth and Harbhajan did, though. Slapping, sobbing, calling each other "brother" - this pair has a bright future in reality television.
I don't want Sachin to play Twenty20 cricket; something tells me he won't click! I love him too much to see him fail! My children someday should not laugh at his Twenty20 innings the way I laugh at Sunil Gavaskar's 36 not out off 174 balls (his "famous" one-day innings in the 1975 World Cup).
[Deep down desire: I want Sachin to play and prove he's the best in this format too]
Highest sixes award for each match, orange cap for highest runs... what about the bowlers? Bowlers should protest this discrimination... seriously!
I am shocked to see players on the field being questioned from the commentator's box (using ear mic) as the match is on, between deliveries. What a distraction - how are teams okay with this?
Good or bad for cricket, there's no denying that Twenty20 is great entertainment!
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Before I close, I'd like us all to stand in silence for 2 minutes to mourn the shunned "real pioneers" of this concept in India - the Indian Cricket League (ICL).