Thursday, April 7, 2011

IPL Season Four Kicks Off Today

IPL Kicks Off Today with 10 teams (Chennai Super Kings, Deccan Chargers, Delhi Daredevils, Kings XI Punjab, Kochi Tuskers, Kolkata Knight Riders, Mumbai Indians, Pune Warriors India, Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bangalore).

ipl-2011 season4

World Cup has infused fresh life into one-day cricket. This is perhaps the best frame of mind and scenario in which the purists can sit back, relax and have a blast as cricketainment returns in the form of Indian Premier League, season four. Only if it was accommodated at a distance further than mere five days from the World Cup final, the excitement would have nicely mushroomed.

Still, what's incontestable is that after three years, the IPL extravaganza has become among the most-awaited event of the game's calendar.

The international stars may complain of overburn with back-to-back tournaments spread over a month and the length and breadth of the subcontinent. And spare a thought for Team India; the new World Champions can't even bask in their glory.

But the sheer fact that only IPL has the capacity to rub the dust off now-proven diamonds like Yusuf Pathan and Shaun Marsh makes it a marquee tournament for future stars, for whom a delay would have been agonising.

It wasn't long ago when the cricketing corridors were abuzz with the perception that the ultra-limited form of the game – Twenty20 – may eat up the more pristine limited-over layout – the ODIs. But with all those debates settled by a smash-hit 2011 World Cup, ODIs and T20s are now two proud, united offspring of Test cricket.

Not only will the fourth season of the Indian Premier League have two new teams to make it a 10-way tussle, it will have an altogether different team make-up as well.

At the end of their three-year contracts in 2010, all the players – except a handful of those who were retained by their employers – were thrown into the auction pool. At the end of that auction earlier this year, the eight previous teams had gone through a major revamp besides welcoming the Kochi Tuskers Kerala and Sahara Pune Warriors into the IPL family.

While India's cynosure Yuvraj Singh gave up his Kings XI kit to don the Pune Warriors colours, Gautam Gambhir left his home in Delhi to lead the Shah Rukh Khan-owned Kolkata Knight Riders.

And those are just a couple of names among a long list of big players who made a move. Yusuf Pathan, who became a household name in Rajasthan with his explosive innings, will accompany Gambhir in the Kolkata camp and Adam Gilchrist will lead Kings XI Punjab instead of the Deccan Chargers, and the list goes on

This IPL will also usher in the post-Lalit Modi era, after the mastermind of the moolah-raking league was sacked by the BCCI following last year’s final on allegations of financial irregularities. In hindsight, it will also be a test of character for the Indian honchos to conduct the IPL successfully minus Modi's unparalleled management skills.

However, the BCCI – besides a controversy-ridden last year – have done their bit to smarten up the league; 74 matches played over 51 days is not only huge but also makes a statement that no one is indispensable and the game is always above individuals.

The refurbished and bigger than ever edition will kick off on Friday with defending champions Chennai Super Kings locking horns with an overhauled Kolkata Knight Riders.

But big names don't win you a Twenty20 championship and that's what the IPL has substantiated with three different winners in as many editions. Whether that continues to be the trend or not, this IPL – coming at the back of a controversial year, gruelling World Cup and new team compositions – will be a test of BCCI's administration, players' endurance and fans' fidelity, respectively.

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