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Indian Premier League 2

The Indian Premier League Season Two isn't a patch on its first avatar

Published: May 18, 2009 11:04:10 PM IST
Updated: May 28, 2009 11:40:50 PM IST

Last year, the Indian Premier League (IPL) changed the world of cricket. It brought youngsters from the hinterland into the international limelight and infused vast amounts of hard cash into the game. IPL made sure that a far wider set of players were able to make a very decent living from cricket.
This year, however, despite even more additions to the galaxy of superstar players, levels of entertainment and excitement haven’t been a patch on Season One.

After early fears that the tournament might not happen, Lalit Modi raised a finger to the Indian government and, in a majestic feat of organisation, transported the whole shebang to South Africa. From there, alas, it’s all been downhill.

The cheering multitudes that packed stadia to the rafters last year, rocking the foundations with their cheers and jeers? They can’t afford to go safari, B’wana; they’re home watching TV.
In their place, we have painfully long strategic time-outs, an overdose of condescending statements regarding South African hospitality, inane commentators, a sham of a beauty pageant.

And did we mention the sparsely filled stadiums?
That’s not all. The fiery Pakistanis are missing because Modi, in a patriotic fit, suspended their contracts after the Mumbai terror attacks. And Australia, attempting to throw its weight around in the one global arena unquestionably dominated by India, cricket marketing, carted off all their Season One stars to Abu Dhabi for a nonsensical tournament against Pakistan.

Frankly, the most entertaining thing about the tournament has been the fakeiplplayer blog, with its scurrilous insider stories about the losing team.
Sure, the troops are working hard to drum up some excitement. Presenters stand in front of stands that have some semblance of a crowd, and camerapersons are instructed not to pan across empty seats. The cheering crowds have been told to bellow loudly every time the camera focuses on them. Everything can be hired.

May be world affairs are working against them; you’d need a stomach of  steel to take grown men babbling about “DLF maximums” and “Citi moments of success” when Citi goes begging to Obama every month for new funds and DLF is struggling to raise capital to fund debt.
Delhi Daredevils actually revealed that the team gets $50,000 for every match they win; and the Deccan Chargers get more cash every time the ropes are cleared. They’re already getting paid handsomely to do a job, why the added incentive to do the job well?

Flying kisses from Shilpa Shetty and Priety Zinta harldy titillated the South Africans. The beauties were waving and dancing to no particular audience.
One hopes the show oozes more energy in its third edition in India. After all, we don’t expect elections next year.
Do we?

(This story appears in the 05 June, 2009 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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