Indian Premier League is round the corner and the excitement is out of the roof. The World cup is a distant past and bleed blue is now bleed whatever color you want. The inaugural season was just like yesterday and here we are, standing at the doorstep of the ninth season of this almost two month long carnival. IPL is not just cricket, it is much more. Much more than entertainment, much more than rivalry, much more than a competition, IPL is now one of the national festivals of India. Yes, right along with Holi, Diwali, Eid and Guruparb. Infact, IPL witnesses more colours than Holi and more fireworks than Diwali.
Observing from a distance, it may seem like that the IPL was just meant to be here but the reality could have been different had some things not turned out as they finally did. Many would not know that T20 cricket was not widely accepted by the BCCI as a serious proposition initially. In fact, the inaugural T20 world cup winning team was more of a make shift team just to go through the formalities of participating in the ICC tournament. Senior players like Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid opted out of the tournament as they did not consider T20 as serious cricket. The selectors chose a team full of youngsters and appointed MS Dhoni as the captain ahead of senior player Yuvraj Singh, on the suggestion of Sachin Tendulkar. There were no expectations at all, to be honest, from the team. Not even the selectors had thought in their dreams that a team which they had sent for just the sake of it will be carrying back the world cup, and a hell lot of future opportunities along with them. Probably the lack of expectations worked in the favor of MS Dhoni`s young team. They played fearless cricket throughout the tournament, a brand of cricket, which was never seen before by an Indian cricket team, and the rest as they say, is history.
The T20 triumph resulted in tremendous response from the fans and suddenly from just another experiment being played in England and Australia, T20 cricket was now the apple of the eye for the Indian fans. BCCI, as it always does, saw the commercial possibilities of this new kid on the block called 20-20. IPL was announced, franchise based sports model, which had been seen earlier in Europe and USA for soccer and basketball relatively, was introduced in India and was an instant hit. The scale of IPL was huge and grabbed the attention of the world.
Indian fans witnessed unique things like the players auction for the first time. They were choosing their teams based on their residential states or their favorite players or even stranger reasons known only to them. But whatever it is, IPL made it big, really big. IPL was even studied for its impact on the the Indian Economy. If it`s cricket. It doesn’t get bigger than the IPL.