Indian Premier League Season 8, the masala blockbuster of cricket in India is well underway by now! For the uninitiated, this is the shorter, 20-over version of cricket, fondly called the T20.
Promoted as India ka Tyohaar, the IPL sure is that. It features loud music, the loudest crowd, overflowing stadiums, big hitting (I mean the bat hitting the ball!), and teams and cheerleaders who dance exuberantly at every boundary. It is also the most colourful that cricket can get, literally, what with the teams' gear ranging from gold and purple, to red, yellow, blue, some players even spotted wearing fluorescent pink shoes!
It is an event that not only adds glamour and élan to the sport but also brings together icons of the game from all over the world for an epic carnival of club cricket. Oh! You even spot Bollywood celebrities rooting for their favourite teams (a couple of them own teams). You really can't miss them – they make sure to wave, and throw kisses at the camera!
The teams play for a city, so there are the Chennai Super Kings, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Delhi Daredevils, Sunrisers Hyderabad, Mumbai Indians, Kolkata Knight Riders, Rajasthan Royals, Kings XI Punjab. Er... is there something different about the last two?
Each team bids for players at an auction – YES, you heard that right – every player, big or small, icon or newbie, goes under the hammer. The highest bid this year was for Yuvraj Singh – a whooping sum of 16 crores – by the Delhi Daredevils.
Then, there are players no one bids for. Ah! The embarrassment, the bruised egos.
This year, it will take 8 teams playing 60 matches over 30 days at 12 venues all over India, to decide the winner of the IPL8. A mouthwatering prospect for an avid cricket-watcher like me!
Anyway, to come back to the 8th season, which kickstarted with the Opening Ceremony in Kolkata.
Clapboard IPL8 ... Lights! Camera! Action!
And action it has been. 56of the 60 matches have been played so far. We have seen spectacular catches, incredible fielding, brilliant batting, superb bowling, nail-biting last-ball finishes, great super overs (this is the additional over for each team that decides a tie), emerging stars and few old players who could not shine!
On another note, we have witnessed a 44-year old Hogg bowl as if he was still 20, and take wickets aplenty. We have seen a green 17-year old Sarfaraz Khan smash an unbeaten 45 off 21 balls like a seasoned player. Gayle celebrated his century ala Ronaldo-style (or is it SRK-style?) with arms outstretched; Tahir ran a lap after taking a wicket; Pollard taped his mouth on being warned by the umpire not to sledge; and SRK did somersaults to celebrate his team's victory!
For statistic collectors, here are a few – 35,947,381 tweets and going strong! A total of 17,052 runs have been scored, 628 wickets have been taken, 639 sixes and 1458 boundaries have been hit.
Things are heating up fast. We are nearly at the end of the tournament. This weekend decided the top 4 teams to qualify for the Playoffs: Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai Indians, Royal Challengers Bangalore, and Rajasthan Royals, in the order of the point table. Sadly, defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders did not make it!
The first qualifier will be between the top two teams, the winner of which gets a straight entry into the finals. The losing team is given another shot (the perks of being in the top 2). They will play against the winner of the second qualifier (between the remaining two teams), and the victor enters the final.
24th May will see a new IPL champion!
So this week, gear up for some Gayle storm, De'Viller's magic, bravo dance moves, some celebration, some heartbreak.
I hope you have chosen your favourite team and are rooting for them... dil se.
Me? Jahan Dhoni... Wahan main... so Whistle Podu CSK.