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In praise of the IPL

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IPL_Indian_Premier_League_cricketBack in 1977, Kerry Packer came up with the idea of World Series Cricket, which had players from different nations playing together. But it was banned by the cricketing boards. Fast forward 31 years, a competition in a similar spirit was inaugurated in India.

In 2008, the Indian Cricket League was terminated by the BCCI, which also threatened the players by imposing lifetime bans. Lalit Modi was given the honours to come up with something and he came up with the Indian Premier League. Similar in structure to European football leagues and the NBA, the Indian Premier League kickstarted with 8 teams from different parts of the country. 

From the inception of the tournament, people started to love the entertainment it offered. Big sixes, cheerleaders, Bollywood stars cheering the team on the sidelines and the gala opening ceremonies spiced it up for the audience. It has revolutionised the sport and the way it is played. With players from different parts of the world joining in, IPL serves as a platform for them to get to know the flatter subcontinent pitches. 

 

The likes of AB de Villiers, Chris Gayle, Faf du Plessis, Mitchell Starc and Glenn Maxwell have excelled in the subcontinent conditions and IPL has played a major role in it. Steve Smith, who has been in excellent form in the recently concluded Test series said, "I have really enjoyed being involved in the IPL. It's been a great learning experience. I got the exposure to the sub-continent conditions. It is nice to be playing with and against the best players all around the world and learning from them."

There has been a lot of talent unearthed from the Indian Premier League. From 17 year old Sarfaraz Khan to 42 year old Pravin Tambe, the IPL has been a platform to display talent and skills. With each team's backroom staff boasting big names, youngsters have found it invaluable in improving their game. Jasprit Bumrah credited John Wright for his success and felt that he wouldn't have played for India had he not been picked in his IPL side. With vastly experienced International stars a part of the side, young guns get to learn the nuances of the game. In a 2016 interview given by Gayle, he calls Sarfaraz Khan his son, showing the strong bond the players develop among themselves. 

The practice sessions help in finding the weaknesses of the players amongst teams. Steve Smith recalls that Ravichandran Ashwin bowled only leg-spinners to him. That goes to show the intelligence the offie possessed and the tactics he played. Depending on how you look at it, that might be one of the cons: players tend to be close with their teammates. 

The Chennai Super Kings duo of Faf du Plessis and Dwayne Bravo hugged each other when the former was running in between the wickets and Kohli revealed that Dale Steyn used to give him the big hugs whenever they meet. Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds were a part of the same team and shrugged off the monkey-gate scandal. They shared light moments during their stint with the Mumbai Indians. Instances like these go to show the bond they share. 

 

The league has created a new breed of batsmen from all over the world. A staggering 638 sixes were hit in the previous edition of the Indian Premier League. From a time where scoring 300 runs in ODIs was a mountainous task, modern era batsmen have begun to find new ways to score and T20s have played a huge role in it. India currently holds the record for scoring most the scores over 300 in ODIs, and IPL is to credit for this. 

After the IPL took off, T20 leagues have boomed in various countries around the world. From the Big Bash League in Australia to the Caribbean Premier League in the West Indies, T20 Leagues have spread all over and this further helps countries find talent. The Bangladesh Premier League, in particular, has helped the local talents a lot, with experienced campaigners playing a part in the league. 

These leagues also help generate a lot of revenue for the respective cricketing boards. Reports say that the IPL contributed a whopping Rs. 11.5 billion to the Indian GDP in 2015. With a plethora of sponsors and TV rights, the money involved is huge. As many as 100 million people watched the cash-rich league via online platforms last year. The brand values of the players and teams increases in leaps and bounds. Virat Kohli's was greatly enhanced in last year's IPL where he scored four centuries. 

During the initial stages of the tournament, several news units launched a scathing attack on BCCI for conducting the league. They said that the tournament wouldn't last long and people would lose the interest. 9 editions have passed by and the excitement still remains the same. 

There have been a lot of claims about the matches being fixed. And it is true: there have been ugly instances of spot-fixing and betting which has led to the downfall of a couple of franchises. But I believe everything has its pros and cons. 

As we head into the tenth edition of the Indian Premier League, we should look at the beneficial aspects it has provided, and thus it's best that we concentrate more on the pros.

 

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