The fourth edition of Indian Premier League (IPL) will begin with defending champions Chennai Super Kings (CSK) led by victorious World Cup Indian team skipper M S Dhoni leading from the front against new look Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) under the leadership of Gautam Ghambir at Chinnaswamy stadium Thursday.
This time around, the IPL looks has more money, more matches, more teams and established as the game’s most lucrative tournament for world cup stardust. Another significant feature of this year’s event
is minus Lalit Modi, the real brain behind this unique IPL format,
This year’s edition spreads over 51 days and comprises 74 matches across 13 venues. The tournament’s future, in fact, had looked in doubt amidst claims of corruption, money-laundering and tax evasions
as well a secret deals to hide teams’ real owners and even links to India’s criminal underworld. But a massive PR exercise by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had ensured the IPL has kept its date with fns, as well as sponsors and advertisers hungry for their share of the huge commercial pie.
This year’s IPL also have two new teams – Kochi Tuskers Kerala and Pune Warriors, taking the total number of franchises to 10. In fact, the IPL revolutionized the sport when it burst into the scene in 2008 with a high-octane blend of international star players, scantily-clad cheerleaders and Bollywood glamour.
The T-20 form of the game, IPL matches are just three hour events packed with music, delirious crowds and countless television advertisements. Everything from the time-out to the drinks break is sponsored by companies, earning Indian cricket authorities millions in revenue. Ironically, this year edition has been robbed of some of its sheen after top Australian players Rickey Ponting, Michael Clarke, Mitchell Johnson pulled out despite the riches on offer. Added to this, most of England’s stars, notably big hitter Kevin Pietersen, will also be absent either due to international commitments or injuries, as will Pakistan’s cricketers, who were again ignored in the bidding.
The top foreign talent on offer will be mostly from South Africa – Graeme Smith, Jackques Kallis and Dale Steyn, or retired greats such as Australia due Shane Warne and Adam Gilchrist.
Meanwhile, with Dhoni’s men being crowned World Champs, the cricket economy is set for an upward swing as India has a heavy calendar this year. In a cricket-heavy year, India plays around 20 ODIs till January 2012,
Back to the IPL opener, the two teams – CSK and KKR – are evenly balanced. A confident Dhoni is confident of big-bang beginning, while the KKR under new skipper Gautam Ghambir, who is in great form this year has big hitters like Jaques Kallis, Manoj Tiwari, Yousuf Pathan and Eoil Morgan in supportive role in batting and to spearhead the attack with Brett Lee and Balaji. On the other hand, the defending champions CSK looks unchanged with last year. Dwayne Bravo, who failed impress with the bat in the recently concluded World Cup for West Indies, expected to perform in IPL, besides inform Suresh Raina, Scott Styris Faf du Plesis, Albie Morkel and Murali Vijay.
Perhaps, Dhoni was right when he criticized the hectic cricket schedule ahead for this year in a pre-match press conference. But can any player dare to be left out in such ‘big money’ game?