The pull out threat of the supreme sponsor, the phoenix like resurrection of an ousted captain, Kerala speedster jumping over the stadium walls, the young vice captain in prime form, the master free from the 100th century troubles handing over the reins to the turbanator, all these happenings preceding the spectacle had raised our expectations to the pinnacle – expectations of a high voltage thrill on and off field during the most extravagant cricket bonanza ever.
Sadly three weeks into IPL and the best we had was Bangalore tornado breaking the nose of a 11- year-old, a dimpled owner arguing with the umpires, two entertaining centuries and a glimpse of the ‘hair raising’ dadagiri. No slap gates, no underdogs going ballistic, no fake IPL player to dig the dressing room secrets; this edition has been just about cricket and precisely why the IPL 5 seems to be quivering languidly. That which was considered to raise the summer heat to scorching hot seems to have lost its way to plain mellow. The heart thumping tight finishes did bring back the enthusiasm a bit but overall it has met with tepid response with the viewers.
Which brings us to the point, IPL to the game buffs is not just cricket, its entertainment. It’s not just a battle between bat and ball where technique, skill and experience matters but calls for something beyond the play. For better or worse we crave for drama, outbursts, tears, slaps, secrets, stars, starlets, controversies, super over, all of which were absent in the first 3 weeks. The question of whether any of these help the sport in any way is an entirely different issue to debate. The crowds were animated, the stadiums competent and many of us kept a score update, but the anticipation, the frenzy, the hysteria seems to be missing high time. The dull opening ceremony, the growing list of injuries or the senseless scheduling have not helped the cause either. The most loyalists of this IPL seem to be the telecom marketers who are satisfied to be on TV, prime time.
But all is not over. A long tournament, we have more than a month to go and the hoopla can ensue any day. Maybe the warrior chief at garden of cricket against his old team would be the match. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope for the ultimate union of cricket and entertainment to seize the zenith before the curtains fall on the fifth summer of Cricketainment.