Cricket festival

Runs and razzmatazz make IPL summer’s most-awaited event

Published - April 21, 2024 12:18 am IST

The IPL has turned many who were not interested in cricket into fans of the game.

The IPL has turned many who were not interested in cricket into fans of the game. | Photo Credit: Illustration: Satheesh Vellinezhi

In the torrid summer months, India celebrates a festival like no other in the country. It brings together people from diverse backgrounds, regions, and cultures, providing moments of joy and pride. It is the Indian Premier League (IPL).

India winning the 2007 Twenty20 World Cup catalysed initial ideas of organising a similar format of franchise cricket league. The IPL began in 2008. Since then, it has managed to establish itself as the most revered and exclusive cricket league in the world. Various other cricket boards have made keen efforts to host such leagues in their countries, but they are not nearly as lionised as the IPL, which is capable of drawing the biggest international cricket players and disrupting the international cricket schedule for two months.

While the IPL has redefined cricket in myriad ways, nurtured lucrative strides for the economy, provided a platform for young cricket talent, propagated deeper friendship among cricketers, and boosted the passion for the sport, it has impacted the lives of the general public in yet more unique and significant ways.

When the IPL starts, it rules. All the newspapers get busy with the build-up, discussion, and analysis of matches, which progressively keep getting more and more captivating as records are made and broken. The massive turnout at stadiums, the disciplined coordination of applause by thousands, the exceptionally loud shout-outs, the tattoos on cheeks, the shining eyes, and the broad smiles provide an obvious justification for the nomenclature of the IPL as a festival.

Regional loyalties instigate such intense emotional bond with teams that cricket becomes the easiest subject of conversation and the most common bone of contention at school, college, work, and even among family members.

Wearing jerseys or the colours of a favourite team and planning an evening with good food are very normal rituals. People are so deeply attached to the teams they support that match days become extra-special occasions. They not only clear their calendars to watch the game but also dedicate the entire day’s plans to that.

Sports channels run pre-match shows and highlights all day, while platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube are flooded with posts.

The IPL has turned many non-enthusiasts into fans of the game. Even those who are still not so interested in cricket and do not follow the sport with ardent passion tend not to mind the loud buzz because of the glory that drapes this tournament. While nail-biting moments with bat and ball are sufficient to entice people into enjoying the game, performances by renowned musicians and dancers at the opening ceremony and the regular presence of celebrities in the stadium lend an extra charm.

The tournament offers much more than entertainment.

As part of their Education and Sports for All initiative, Mumbai Indians, each season, provide an opportunity to around 18,000 children to watch a live game, while Rajasthan Royals have taken up initiatives to make cricket matches carbon neutral and to support women-led development in Rajasthan. Royal Challengers Bengaluru have unveiled a special green jersey to display their commitment to environmental protection, while Delhi Capitals’ players wear special rainbow jerseys to celebrate national diversity. Lucknow Super Giants wear red jerseys to pay tribute to the legacy of a famous Indian football club and Gujarat Titans wear lavender jerseys to raise awareness of cancer.

With increasing pollution and global warming, the temperatures keep soaring. Summers are becoming intolerable, yet India does not wait as much for any other season, because, with summer, comes the IPL.

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