As the 25th game of the IPL gets over, have I formed a slightly clearer picture of the tournament than on the inaugural day? A few vignettes to reflect on.
A female friend of mine whose interest in cricket was as high as Boycott’s was in hitting sixes trooped all the way to the D Y Patil stadium to watch a Mumbai Indians (candidate for the worst name award?) game. No, I am not being sexist, but what’s a fashionista and a Bollywood fan doing in the cricket ground? Would she have gone to the Eden Gardens to watch a classic test match between India and Australia?
Preity Zinta in the stands in a Kings XI Punjab (another name fit to be consigned to the dustbins of anonymity) game presents a dismal sight, at least as far as the cricket enthusiast is concerned. Any KXI wicket falls and her face clouds like a big tragedy has enveloped her brethren. Sure, any wicket could be trouble, but her expression of “something’s gone wrong, I don’t know what, I know I can’t do anything, but it’s my duty to worry” is just too priceless to belong anywhere but on the silver screen. She looks like an over-indulged kid whose favourite doll might just topple over from the balcony.
Cut to the same Preity Zinta in the studios. And what does our irrepressible Ajay Jadeja ask her? “Preity, I’m going to mention some names, and you have to tell me whether they’re cool or drool.” No, this was not on a fashion channel or a film awards nite, this on the match preview. A forum that has been graced by people like Richie Benaud, Bill Lawry, Tony Greig and the like.
A visit to the official web site of the Rajasthan Royals is revealing. Their vice-chairman Ravi Krishnan is responsible for “structuring the business for commercial, operational and on-field success.” Till not too long ago, the three most important aspects of the game were batting, bowling and fielding.
As with most things in life, there have been some positives as well. Shane Warne’s coaching, mentoring, captaincy and bowling (and batting, in that famous assault on Andrew Symonds) makes you wonder: Is he the best captain Australia never had? Glenn McGrath’s first spell in the tournament is perfection itself. Brett Lee steaming in to bowl, and pumping his fists at the fall of a wicket suggests that the players at least are serious about the game. The clashes between Warne and Saurav Ganguly suggest that the intensity is undimmed; the slow over-rates are encouraging.
A friend of mine (and a serious cricket enthusiast) calls the IPL an abomination that should be stopped at the earliest. I am veering towards that view as well: I am tiring of watching one slam-bang game every day. But what if there is one Sohail Tanvir spell every other day? Ah, come on in, mate, let’s have a chat and a beer. And a game.