April 18, 2008


Indian Premier League is all set to kick-off a new phase in cricket. A lot of skeptics might have waved off 20-20 as nothing but a pretty diversion when the idea would have originated first. Now suddenly it all seems like a good deal.

Why not? If all the money spent already can't make it look pretty then what's the point! They could have very well used Pink Floyd's Money as the theme song. Someone tell Lalit Modi more is usually less while less is surely more!

IPL is nothing but a money-spinning racket. Of course, there is a new dimension that might be added and perhaps this would make the sport global. By global we don’t mean an Asian dominance, which the ICC hates. Ravi Shastri and Sunil Gavaskar can go all out to say this is the tonic that the gentleman’s game needed but come the next test series and the same geniuses would go to town praising the baggy blue Indian test cap.

When SONY forayed into cricket broadcast and introduced Mandira Bedi on a discussion panel, people like Harsha Bhogle cried foul. They had a problem with pre-match shows talking about things besides cricket. But when 20-20 originated the same Mr. Bhogle couldn’t help but regale us with 2000-words-a-minute talk while flashing his signature irritating hangar-in-my-mouth wide smile. Now suddenly the cheerleaders and dancin’ in the stands was fine.

The best thing about the IPL is the hype that it’s attracting. A day after the Olympic Torch thingy no news channel is interested in some after thought type discussion. All they can see, thanks to their blinders, is the darn IPL and its cheerleaders led opening ceremony. The sinking feeling I have is that the advertising, themes and logos and video unveiling could very well end up becoming the most memorable thing about the maiden IPL version.

One look at the ads and you might be mistaken that this isn’t some game of flashy cricket but some war. First of all who the hell came up with the Aaj Tak inspired ‘Karamyudh’ tag line? Secondly you squeeze in 50 plus matches in almost as many days in the months of April-May in India and expect the Yodhas to deliver! Little surprise then people like Andrew Symonds will only be playing four matches for Aussies clash with West Indies.

The names these teams picked up me reek of the various hangovers we Indians seem to be proud of. Rajasthan is still Royal and so is Bangalore but that Royal is Vijay ‘Kingfisher’ Mallya liquor inspired. Mumbai won’t stop epitomizing its Indianess whereas Delhi, as usual, is stuck with the D word- Daredevils. Little surprise that Punjab would be anything but Kings and Chennai is…well…Kings too!

This complete lack of ingenuity reaches its peak when you see the videos featuring brand ambassadors. Mumbai video has UN Peacekeeping uniform clad soldiers dancing with Hrithik Roshan in addition to the routine Mumbai fare- dabbawallahs, auto drivers, fishermen, PYT’s and dudes in ties! The Knight Riders have escaped convicts, dancers and pehalwans biting (literally) the cricket ball. FYI- SRK’s son suggested Ball Busters instead of Knight Riders. Surprisingly even with SRK or Hrithik and their all round skills their videos weren’t half as good as the Chandigarh Lions. Better still Chennai and Hyderabad- they never got any videos made. I don’t blame them for how can you make one if you have someone like Krish Srikkanth as the brand ambassador!

The only thing missing in this whole tamasha is Mandira Bedi and her ‘I-Still-Don’t-Know- What-Am-I-Doing-Next-To-Tony-Greig’ expression.

My money is on Hyderabad ‘Chargers’…but seriously who thinks of these names!!!!!!!

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