Of superstition and slaps: The legend of IPL

When India won the Prudential World Cup back in ’83, very few would have predicted the kind of impact it would eventually have, on the development of cricket in the country. The popularity of the game saw an unprecedented surge and the Board of Control for Cricket in India cashed in. Fast forward 34 years and Indian cricket seems to be on an all time high having had a brilliant home season, finishing as the number one side in test matches.

The administration might be in shambles at the moment, but that doesn’t take away the fact that the board’s largest money spinner is back for a tenth edition.

The Indian Premier League is a couple of days from another season of highs and lows, and despite being marred with controversial cacophony in recent times, it continues to have what it needs to survive – a thriving fan base. The tourney had to let go of two of its most illustrious pupils in 2016, yet, the show went on.

Since its inception in 2008, IPL has had to traverse through several hurdles along the way, even giving up on the person whose brainchild it initially was, and still managing to stand up at the end of the day. Its brand value has dwindled, sponsors have changed course, and players have been found wanting for their sincerity to the game. That it has been able to survive all of it, says a lot about its self sustaining capacity.

When Shane Warne won the inaugural edition with a team that had relatively unknown entities entirely, not only did it go on to show how money wasn’t the decisive factor, but it also displayed something that many had entirely forgotten – that the game was larger than all of us.

Royal Challengers with a team that has easily featured some of the biggest names in world cricket has never managed to lift the cup, despite always being the most extravagant spenders at the auction. Kolkata, on the other hand, changed its dynamics entirely when the re-auction occurred with a calculated setup that got them on the podium twice. Chennai Super Kings, somehow, managed to retain their entire core barring a few, and consistently reach the last four stages, even winning it twice, before being ousted because an individual erred on the wrong side of the line.

The tournament has also had its fair share of unforgettable and sometimes, forgettable moments that have only managed to propel it further into becoming the emotion that people look forward to, every summer. From the famous slapgate featuring Harbhajan and Sreesanth to the former playing alongside Andrew Symonds in the same team, one can only go on and on about improbable things that have actually happened.

Pune has let go off a ‘s’ from their name for reasons best left to healthy superstition, while addressing the need for a captain who would replace an ageing Dhoni. It is not the first time that a team has resorted to the stars after a disappointment campaign. Shah Rukh Khan changed the KKR kit colors from black to purple after his team failed to impress in the first two editions of the tournament.

If the first edition was a classic example of how team work can win you the trophy, the last edition proved otherwise as David Warner carried Sunrisers Hyderabad almost entirely on his shoulders as they went on to defeat a dejected Kohli in the grand finale. A team that didn’t seem in the fray for a playoff berth had come back from behind to win the tournament, again. Mumbai, led by the perpetually complacent Rohit Sharma, have won the tournament twice, having been in a position where everybody expected them to lose.

But for all its shortcomings, the Indian Premier League has found takers in people who love their game. It has, because the tournament is not all about the stardom and entertainment that comes alongside. It is about incidents that uplift those who were never meant to see the light of the day, propelling a few like Pravin Tambe into stardom at 43 while bringing the curtains down on those who decide to hurt the dignity of the sport.

Sure, it doesn’t test your skills like test cricket promises to, but can there not exist a harmonious co-existence to two completely different entities, both of which are a part of this beautiful game?

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