SPORT

The IPL is fun; it is different



The hosts are making the most of the opportunity to popularise the game in Africa, writes Kumar Sangakkara



India’s inability to host the IPL this year may have caused widespread disappointment on the streets of Mumbai and Kolkata, but India’s loss is South Africa’s gain and this year’s hosts are making the most of an incredible opportunity to popularise the game in Africa.

Twenty20 cricket has been embraced by South Africa.

They’ve been playing it longer than most countries domestically and they also staged the inaugural ICC Twenty20 World Cup.

That event was a great success and this year’s IPL looks set to leave a lasting impression.

For a nation of great diversity — the Rainbow Nation, no less — it is heartening to see people and fans from all sections of society coming to the games. The crowds may lack the fanaticism that is endemic to India, but you can see the enthusiasm and love for the game.

A huge positive

This IPL is a huge positive for South Africa’s cricket, energising youth cricket and inspiring kids to do better.

We have spent some time in between games interacting with various less-privileged communities and this has highlighted to me again the power of sport to be a force for good in society.

From a player’s perspective, aside from some weather issues, it has been very efficiently organised and, like last year, a great pleasure to be part of.

The IPL is fun, it is different and it is a challenge as you take on the world’s best players. All the franchises are playing good cricket this year and competition is very tough.

The chance to mingle and mix with your international adversaries is brilliant. Spending time with players from different countries helps break down barriers. The budding friendships are a huge positive for world cricket, helping sportsmanship remain at the centre of our game.

On the field, sadly, Kings XI have not fared as well as we hoped thus far. But it is early days and there is much more cricket ahead of us. We can’t control the weather and so there is no point in getting too frustrated. We have had some bad luck and that happens.

Preity Zinta and the owners have, as expected, been brilliant despite our slow start. They have put their heart and souls into this franchise and win or lose they have supported us completely.

Gameplan

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