By the time you read this, IPL’s relevance would have been long gone. And its only 3 days since the great Indian circus got over. Ever wonder why IPL is losing popularity? It is because of the controversies that when it’s over, people gasp with a ‘Finally!’. So, movie channels can now shift their premier movies to their original prime time of 9pm. New programs are launched in various channels. People start reading books again. We don’t have to endure Navjot Singh Sidhu and an array of stupid presenters in MAX who sell products rather than call the match. (I wonder how IPL will look like if ESPN broadcasts it with Harsha as the host).
IPL has a new champion in KKR and deservedly so. In fact the four teams that made it to the playoffs took their rightful place. I know a lot of you will go bonkers that CSK didn’t deserve to be there. True CSK had a lukewarm season in their standards but then none of the 5 eliminated teams grabbed their chances did they? KKR and Delhi looked like finalists from the first weekend. In the business end, one team choked and the other kept its resolve. MI were their usual underachievers self while CSK showed in the end why they are a champion side, brushing aside MI and DD in the playoffs with such disdain. I can hear a lot of “fixing” groans already. Let’s debate it in the end and keep Cricket first shall we?
The Kolkata Knight Riders had but one agenda when they started the campaign. Win it. It is not like other teams did not but they had that resolve about them. DD were lazy at times I thought, just like their captain. KKR flourished with a captain who was all out to prove, both about his leadership and his team’s capability. Sunil Narine was their trump card while Kallis and Balaji contributed immensely. But if Gambhir struggles then KKR will struggle big time. That they won despite Yusuf Pathan woeful form tells something. Mumbai Indians faltered to deceive while CSK didn’t really set the tournament ablaze like how they were supposed to. They were poor by their own standards (except fielding that is) and didn’t really deserve the hat-trick.
But the real questions lay outside the cricket ground. That IPL needed controversies to improve RATINGS is a shame on the game itself. Initially, IPL was driven by the frenzy of cricket madness. With 5 seasons behind, there is still not a single defining rivalry in IPL. CSK-RCB has the potential but will take years to reach where a Liverpool-Manchester United rivalry is now. Both neighboring cities and both have beaten each other in crunch games, though CSK is ahead in the rivalry. But when are we going to see an El Classico types? That improves ratings, not some SRK bullshit. Ever consider why people don’t talk about IPL weeks after it’s gone like the Ashes or an Indo-Australia series? I guess the onus for this soon-will-be failure of IPL has to be put on both the organizers and the people. The organizers are happy with providing what people want rather than what they should have. And people are dumb enough to care about gossips. Is it because more women watch cricket these days? Just kidding!
Now the whole “fixing” game… With so much money involved and that too in India, it is so much easy to connect the dots to match fixing. Sure one can’t refute it. But people tend to get over emotional about the whole fixing part. See the thing with high octane matches is, you can really have a plan. So if it is about a bowler bowing low full tosses and it turns out to be a yorker, where is your planning there? The best thing about cricket is its unpredictability, even for the players. And people talk about how CSK got into the finals despite being out of form. They point to the fact that Chepauk is the venue for the final and a “crowd“ is needed at the ground. CSK played their first qualifier in Bangalore and the stadium was full, filled three quarters with yellow. Last year I watched the 2nd qualifier and the final at Chepauk. The 2nd qualifier between MI and RCB was watched by over 30000 people and the ground was buzzing for Gayle and Sachin. So I don’t see the stadium-full theory as convincing from people who are quick to post “IPL is fixed”.
Here’s my point. If IPL is fixed, then logically the players are the cheaters. Those include the likes of Dravid, Ganguly (Who famously lead India with distinction after the match fixing era), Hussey, Steyn, Kallis, Fleming and a certain Mr. Sachin Tendulkar. Are these great players, cheaters in their country colors too? N Srinivasan heads the most influential cricketing board in the world whose country won the World Cup last year. So the ones who are quick to brandish him as a fixer, are they ready to say that him and Sharath Pawar scripted the World Cup win for India? There is only so much in sport that is run by the brain. Mostly it is the heart and instinct that fuels the players in that less-than-a-second time to react to a ball. Can’t cheat that can we?