Bhubaneswar: After a period of uncertainty and suspense due to the Covid-19 pandemic the favourite pastime of the country, IPL 2020, is all set for a bugle in the desert kingdom of United Arab Emirates (UAE) from tomorrow. The whole tournament will be played in three stadiums-Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Dubai International Cricket Stadium and Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi.
The BCCI faces innumerable challenge to host the mega event. Still the richest cricket board on earth along with the broadcasters and sponsors will no doubt be happy for the final push. The cricketers also face a daunting task of playing in silent stadiums while battling the desert heat. However the thrill of T20, passion for the game and the perks could keep them motivated and sharp. The fans are also over elated despite the sordid side of the biggest cricket league in the world which often pops up controversies.
IPL is an immensely popular tournament which attracts the best players worldwide, making it the most competitive and exciting event. Initially it seemed impossible to conduct the cash-rich league due to Covid-19, which caused the cancellation or postponement of many prestigious international events including the Olympics, Wimbledon and T-20 Cricket World Cup. BCCI was committed to organise the tournament and kept searching for windows. After the postponement of T-20 World Cup, they got the much needed window for the mega event.
Organising IPL in India was out of question because of the pandemic and BCCI hunted for several countries before finally settling in UAE. Then it will not be a new experience for organisers of IPL. The grand event has been successfully held in South Africa in 2009 and part of the 2014 edition was held in UAE because of the general elections in India.
Normally the cash-rich tournament is held during March-May window. But there is a delay of six months this time. However the delay has whetted the appetite of one and all associated with the gentleman’s game and set the euphoria intact among the diehard cricket fans. Most of the owners of the franchises are pretty much confident that the 13th edition of the mega tournament is going to be the best ever. Meanwhile they are also concerned about the safety of the players. Even one Covid-19 case in the midst of the event could spell the doom.
No risk please
With reports coming in that there are thousands of active coronavirus cases in the UAE, the conduct of the IPL has not received unanimous approval. On the other hand since IPL attracts worldwide attention, fingers would be raised against the organisers if the pandemic cast its shadow over the tournament. The apprehension became scary when some players of the Chennai Super Kings tested positives before the start of the tournament. Thankfully the scary episode is behind now and most of the players in the CSK squad have recovered.
The tournament is pretty long with eight teams vying for the top honours in altogether 60 matches spread over 53 days. The local officials are allowing limited number of spectators at all the venues. But it could be risky and the organisers can’t afford any slip up. Cricket should be allowed to prosper in the ground, but the larger prospective of other’s welfare should not be ignored. The virus still remains a real threat and the hunger for profit should not over ride health concerns.
No trouble in getting sponsors
Despite the fact that Vivo withdrew as the title sponsor of the 13th edition following public sentiments against China following the border face-off, BCCI never experienced any trouble in getting sponsors for the high profile tournament. Many major corporate houses threw their hats into the ring and finally Fantasy sports platform Dream 11 made a successful bid for the title rights. Over the years the promotional amount has escalated, the rates for advertising slots have gone up equally but the money has always been forthcoming.
According to the assumption of few media agency heads the tournament will bring in advertisements given that the festive window is vital from an advertising viewpoint. Given the fact that it is the festive season, many sponsors and advertisers will be interested in promotional and brand building exercises. More ever IPL being a high impact property is sure to attract financial backing of all sorts.
More than money
IPL is more than just money for the BCCI. It supplies oxygen into cricket’s eco system. The revenue generated from the mega tournament helps BCCI organise domestic tournaments across all age group. In 2019-20 season BCCI altogether arranged a record 2,305 matches in the men’s and the women’s categories. The operational costs of all these matches, salary hike of domestic players and umpires have increased BCCI’s expenses. The pension scheme of former cricketers and the money provided to the state units for the infrastructural development, have also added to BCCI’s financial burden. IPL just keeps the cricketing ecosystem in the country healthy.
No prediction please
From now on the focus will be shifted on the eight teams, the players and how they fare and who will win the trophy. So far six of the eight main teams have won the trophy in the last 12 editions of the competition. It shows that predicting a winner in the T-20 format is a futile activity.
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