Will the nation united by the cricketing triumph get divided by the regional loyalties of IPL? A Dhoni playing against Sachin, a Sehwag walloping Yousuf Pathan, a Hyderabadi backing an Australian cricketer, will this scenario rework the matrix of players' relationship?
Will the loyalties of the audience get divided where they bay and boo a cricketer from a different region and cheer a player even if he happens to be from a different country known for sledging? “Not necessarily. If the game is played in the spirit of the game, that might not happen. Cricket is not like football which is physically rough. I remember 30, 40 years ago, players from rival teams would meet after the game to share a drink. Why shouldn't that happen now?
Cricket is now highly competitive that might affect the way players react but I hope the spirit of unity endures,” says Muralidhar Siddhanti, a former professor of Osmania University. “Watching the way the game is being followed I get a feeling that we have become a nation of leisure. And more of this is being thrust on us. And because it is there, people will be following it. And when someone creates this hype, they will want to benefit from it. More than uniting or dividing loyalties, I see it as a wastage of time and energy of the nation,” says a commander of Navy who works at Research Centre Imarat in Hyderabad.
The one place this divisive nature of cricket becomes apparent is the cosmopolitan workplace.
“The victory over Pakistan and Sri Lanka gave us a warm feeling where you smiled and shared the joy with your neighbour even if that person is not part of your team and didn't know him/her personally. People had smiles that remained stuck on the faces. Now, with the beginning of IPL, I will have to be aware that I am from Chennai and the team my neighbour is cheering may not be necessarily the team I am cheering. So, yes some of the bonhomie and shared happiness will disappear,” says an IT employee who followed most of the games at the office canteen with office mates.
To get the mood of IPL one has to just follow the ads being created for the various teams with the help of their main sponsors and the rivalry that they are trying to create. One liqour company which sells sodas and CDs might have players from the various teams on board for promoting and celebrating the team spirit, but, once the match begins the mood changes dramatically. “I may not back a local team but my husband who has his loyalties with the Chennai team ensures that I am reminded of my origins. I think it is the soft drink companies, the cellphone companies that try to create loyalties and rivalries to benefit out of it. We have different loyalties but we sit on the same dining table to eat the food. Hopefully, the IPL will create an ambiance where people may back different teams but they back India when it comes to the crunch,” says P. Bindu, a teacher in kindergarten school.