Summers were very different ten years ago in our country. It was a time when kids were excited to go out and play in the sun and vacations hogged the limelight. That one event has changed the entire concept of a summer is hard to fathom but when we dig deeper into that enigma, we’re bound to stumble upon the intensity of a simple idea. When implemented perfectly, that basic thought has the potential to turn into worldwide phenomenon and in many ways that perfectly sums up what the Indian Premier League has been.
The obvious difference going into this year’s extravaganza is the absence of CSK and RR. CSK have been one of the most consistent and feared sides while on the other hand, RR have relied on exciting young talents to regularly punch above their weights. Though we’ll still see their players turning up for the Gujarat Lions and the Rising Pune Supergiants, their 2 year exile is definitely a huge blow for the fans.
On the brighter side, the draft picks and the player auction have produced interesting combinations. All the squads including those of the new teams look strong and relatively balanced on paper. RCB have bolstered their side by signing Watson and Binny. The all-round option provided by these two will come in handy for Kohli who will look to lead his side to a first IPL triumph. Kings XI Punjab and Delhi Daredevils will look to put last year’s disappointments out of the way and will want to start afresh under their new captains David Miller and Zaheer Khan. Though a grey cloud looms over a few key players of KKR and MI including the likes of Sunil Naraine and Lasith Malinga, they have enough depth in their squads and are always a force to be reckoned with. SRH have never really set the stage on fire and a lot will depend on how David Warner rallies his troops if they are to make it to the play-offs this year. The newbies will want to get into the groove quickly and considering that almost all of them have had a substantial taste of the IPL, it should happen sooner than later.
One of the best features of the IPL is its ability to find and mold unknown commodities and at the same time be a shot at redemption for some of the overlooked seniors. Ravi Ashwin’s commendable performances for CSK were what catapulted him into the national mix. Uthappa and Nehra have their impressive IPL showings to thank for their return to the international scene. Bumrah, Pandya, Negi, Axar Patel and a number of other youngsters have benefitted immensely from the experience they gained during the IPL. We can expect more of the same trend with the likes of Shreyas Iyer, Vijay Shankar, Deepak Hooda, Barinder Sran and many more ready to express themselves.
Another heartwarming fact has been how the tournament has evolved over the last decade. Initially, this was all about how hard the batsmen can hit. Now, it’s safe to say that such narrow minded thoughts are well behind us. As always, it ain’t about how hard you can hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, keep conjuring your best as all it takes is one catch, one throw, one cameo or one over to turn the tide completely. But of course, you must be willing to put yourself out there, be willing to take the hit in order to truly rise. Playing in front of huge, vociferous and passionate crowds, the fact that almost every player exudes this trait is what has set the IPL apart and is what will lay the base for all the moments of brilliance over the next 50 days. Welcome to the carnival!