One classic match that made us believe in the IPL again
Stephen Flemings twitches, Virat Kohli’s horror and the weird thing Jadeja did when he hit the winning boundary -- it was all real, unadulterated by the stink of money and glitz.
It’s not easy, being an IPL hater. Every so often, the tournament throws one spectacular match at your sour face that will have you celebrating in your living room with your little brother, who you had just fought with minutes ago.
It doesn't matter to you right then... that these spectacular matches are probabili-stically not that hard to come by in the Twenty20 format. It doesn't even matter to you that N Srinivasan just got a little richer. And it definitely doesn’t matter that Indian players were outshined in almost every department last night.
All that matters is that the Chennai Super Kings managed to win this game the best way possible. They started off as the favourites, so if they had won it easily, we would call it one-sided; this way we managed to make ourselves look fairly helpless for nearly 38 good overs, instilled this ‘we are the underdogs’ mood and then whoosh! like the studs we are, we made 45 runs with 12 remaining balls.
Match won, ego boosted, crowd happy. Rajeev Shukla must have done a little jig (a voluntary one, that is).
More importantly, the IPL has invigorated its followers just enough, so that we keep watching, possibly getting frustrated, till the next One Spectacular Match happens and the vicious cycle begins again.
It’s like an unhealthy relationship that lasts longer than in should; you hang in there knowing it’s bad for you until you finally decide to quit, but then you have that one magical moment that brings you back to square one.
Nevertheless, it cannot be argued that the Chennai crowds needed this as much as the Super Kings did. Like the heat wasn’t traumatic enough, on Wednesday, nature thought it amusing to throw in a couple of earthquakes too. Chepauk shook today as well, but from positive energy, not the seismic variety.
However, I still think that it is important that fans don’t get carried away. It probably makes no sense economically, but I think there is one way the IPL can become a healthy concept. Make it cheap entertainment. Tickets that don’t cost a month’s house rent, please. And you can keep the inflatable stick-things and the boundary boards, thank you very much. Costs can be recovered by not live telecasting the auctions, sacrificing cheerleaders and other things nobody really cares for. I dare say there are a few business whizzes who can figure out a way to make it sustainable.
The second thing that we need to do as fans is treat the IPL as a game rather than as a sport. Stop trashing your team for going through a rough patch, and don’t get emotional when others trash yours. Let old aunties enjoy the match even if they don’t know the difference between leg-spin and off-spin. Don’t be a cricket snob. The whole mood of the IPL is meant to be playful and it’s best treated as a good game of book cricket.
As far as spotting new talent goes I think the IPL can be as deceptive as it is helpful. Any player can have a couple of good games if they’re decently talented, and if they’ve gained a place in the squad then obviously they’re good. Whether or not they perform comes down to a random force called luck. So it’ll take some serious consistence for a new star to be recognised and that is bound to be hampered if there’s too much pressure, too much money and too much intimidation riding on a game.
This match was a reminder of how good the IPL can be, as was I suppose, the MI vs DC match on Monday. After a long time it actually felt a cricket match. Stephen Flemings twitches, Virat Kohli’s horror and the weird thing Jadeja did when he hit the winning boundary -- it was all real, unadulterated by the stink of money and glitz. That is what the IPL is about, and what it should be.
About the author: Nandita Jayaraj is a Chennai Super Kings fan. She left the science lab for journalism. Her tryst with Indian cricket began with the world cup of 99. You can follow her on twitter @nanditajayaraj.
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