Sunday, April 19, 2009

Setting the Scene: Korbo Lorbo Jeetbo Re !

“Every day for the next 50 days of IPL in South Africa, every cricketer will wake up knowing a few thoughts of survival and winning – like

“bowlers will run in faster to spear in the yorker at the block hole more regularly knowing that going at 6 an over will win his team the game and

“every batsman will want to swing the bat under the bounce of the ball sending it into orbit knowing that it will win him a game even with a six off the last ball, and

“every fielder will pounce on the ball at the park like a pride of hungry lions knowing that runs saved and run outs afflicted and catches taken will win them matches”!

In all I would alter the already clever IPL alliteration of “Eek Desh; Eek Dhadkan” to “Eek Khel; Anekh Romanch!

IPL phenomenon is truly a great franchise that every Indian would want to grow into a global fanfare.

The world of sports has in the past created several iconic sporting spectacles. Mostly reflective of the strong country culture depending on their origin. Iconic sporting events such as these are religiously patronized and followed with fanatic zeal every calendar year.

The French have the French Open , English the EPL and the Wimbledon, the Americans have the NBA, UP Open , whole of Europe have the UEFA cup , the famed rugby leagues featuring the black caps , aussie and south Africans and the blazing tracks across Monaco, Sepang , Madrid, etc zipping with the roaring auto mobile marvels from McLaren, Ferraris and Toyotas.

India on its part can nurture the IPL into one such iconic franchise. Some thing which today epitomizes the Indian way of savoring the newest form of play between bat and ball between 22 supreme athletes.

The colonized English game has largely remained insular with in the confines limited to contests between two test playing nations. The English county circuit had attempted crosspollination by including cricketers from multiple nations with a measured success.

But the club culture combined with the T 20 fervor catalyzed by monstrous crowd following from the Indian fans which in turn dragged in obscene moolah catapulted IPL into a tournament with international acclaim and top billing across television networks around the world.

BCCI Vice President Lalit Modi had a great vision of monetizing the growing fan following, a booming economy and establish credentials of cricket as a religion into mega bucks.

“Vision with out execution is nothing”, the first edition of IPL proved to a grand success. With recession looming large and question raised on the profitability of the franchisee owners, IPL-2 had mild apprehensions. Until Lahore attacks changed the cricketing fortunes for Asian teams forever.

Lalit Modi, the uber optimistic charismatic commissioner of the IPL has head on taken up the challenge of a potential catastrophe of the game being called off or limited owing to the alarming raise in the threat perceptions on the wake of Lahore Blasts and the bullets razed Lankan cricketers. Add to that the politics and the season of politics go to a situation of stalemate threatening the multi million dollar franchise busting.

But the Midas Modi has converted the huge challenge to a terrific opportunity. Plucking a massive logistical mega tourney involving players 8 major test playing nations from Asia to a far flung continent of Africa all in a matter of 3 short weeks is an astounding achievement.

What this change has done is that it has elevated the IPL-2 Franchise as a greater global sporting spectacle than it was in it first avatar last season. The economic dimensions have evolved to fit the commercial viability quarters in an international context. Aside Indian’s for whom cricket is a religion; IPL-2 has increased its fan following depth across the world giving great mileage to iconic global sponsoring brands like Nokia, Pepsi, Coke, Wrigley’s and Tag Heuer.

Going by the fantastic cavalcade spectacle on the streets of Cape Town thronged by miles and miles of eager fans queuing up to glimpse their stars was a sure enough indication of the abundant excitement in store and importantly the acceptance of the format and the values of the Indian city based embryonic club culture.

The best after effect will be a huge increment on foreign tourists thronging to Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Punjab, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Rajasthan. Consider the sheer fast track experience and knowledge exchange that the young Indian cricketers will stand to gain from their sharing dressing room atmosphere with icons like Flintoff, KP, Sanath, Gayle, Pollock, Fleming and Kallis?

The icing on the cake for the unprecedented success is also because of the heady mix of two of greatest pastimes of India. Bollywood and Cricket. When the biggest brand of India Shah Rukh Khan lent his might to the games, it is sure to make news any ways .News surrounding the bollywood beauties bidding for the gladiators was a sure formula to send TRP ratings sky rocketing.

For me, though I am a hardcore fan of SRK and Dada’s Knight Riders it is extremely difficult for me to choose my support from a rich treasure of cricketing talent.

Be it the dazzlers from Sri Lanka, Sangakara, Jayavardade, Jayasuriya, Muralidharan or Freddie and KP or our own Viru, Gambir,Rohit,Balaji,Raina,Robin,Dhoni,Rahul, Tendy, Bajji, Pathans, and the rest like Gilly, VVS, Gibbs, Gayle, Haydos, Maharoof, Pigeon, Morkel and Smith. But then there are glitzy stars and super star like SRK, Priety Zinta, Shilpa Shetty and Juhi Chawla to add to the galaxy of entertainers.

Unlike last time, I am sure the lesser known stars will stake their fame under the South African sun. It is also going to be time when the Indian icons like Dravid, Sachin, Kumble, VVS, Ganguly shine. For the folks who stayed up late yesterday you will see why the experience of Dravid, Kumble and Sachin stood out as cornerstone in their team’s triumphs.

It is also numbingly sad that the immensely popular and talented cricketers from Pakistan will miss out the carnival this time. Shoiab Akthar, Tanvir, Gul, Kamran, Misbah, Malik and Afridi will be badly missed.

This edition will have a higher learning curve of the franchisee owners at managing their respective teams in display. Multiple captaincy threw open a furor and a can of many worms open.

“No plan survives the first two minutes of battle” –
Helmut Von Moltke, the Elder, Chief of the Imperil German Staff, 1858-88.

Even as the game seesaws directions with each dot ball or a hit over the fence the situation necessitates a release of flood of ideas to unlock winning culture in an intensely competitive T20 Cricket razzmatazz.

Like SRK opines “Let’s give this thought on multiple captaincy a breathing space”. The strategy break after 10 overs though aimed at mopping currencies from advertisement jingled does pause the frenetic pace of the game providing the avid fan thronging the TV screens at his home to ease himself for a drink or a bio break.

As much as the Rajasthan Royals will seek an encore all the 8 team have an equal chance to win the ultimate price this season. We have already seen last editions outcasts Royal Challengers and Deccan Chargers winning against their celebrated opponents.

Let the games begin! Let’s celebrate the heady concoction of global stars from the cricketing & movies world contesting a sport loved by billion plus Indians across the globe.

"It is just 3 hours of intense cricket played on a Viagra pill"
AfterWord - Sanjay Jha

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