Team India Specials

So far, so dud

Wednesday, April 22, 2022
Ganesh Iyer

Durban: There’s one common question being asked in the Indian media these days – Has the IPL 2 managed to match the excitement levels created by inaugural season of the league in 2008?

Facts – in the form of the TRP ratings – seem to suggest that Season 2 hasn’t had the kind of fan-following that the inaugural season managed to grab. According to a recently released report, the TRP rating for matches played on the first day was 3.6 percent as against 4.3 percent in the previous season.

Australian cricketer Mathew Hayden of Chennai Superkings plays a shot during the IPL Twenty20 match against Bangalore Royal Chalengers at St. George's Park in Port Elizabeth. Cricket 'golden oldies'Hayden and Muttiah Muralitharan powered Chennai Super Kings to a 92-run win. © AFP
Furthermore, several people involved with the game – players - current and former, and journalists - too believe that the tournament so far hasn’t been all that exciting and that the Indian connection is missing. Ajay Jadeja, who is the cricket expert on NDTV 24x7 – an Indian news channel, opined that IPL2 lacked the buzz that the inaugural season of the league had. He also noted that the coverage level of the IPL was on a lesser scale when compared to the media coverage in the inaugural season.
Muttiah Muralidaran, the Sri Lankan spin-wizard, who plays for the Chennai Super Kings, agrees that the buzz that one found in India in the opening season is missing this season. In his column in the Times of India today, he writes, “As a player, though, there is no point in pretending that the buzz is the same as the first IPL. The crowds have been decent so far, and the spectators have created a good atmosphere. But it is different. The games lack the passion, intensity and noise created by Indian crowds.”
VVS Laxman told the Times of India that he too misses the Indian crowds. He said, "It wouldn’t do justice to those roaring crowds in India if I don’t put it on record that they’re being missed. The noise, the crowd there cannot be compared to any other place in the world."

New Zealand cricketer Brendon McCullum(R) and West Indian batsman Chris Gayle of Kolkata Knight Riders congratulate each other while playing against King's XI Punjab during the IPL Twenty20 match in Durban. Kolkata Knight Riders won by 11 runs (D/L method). © AFP
Furthermore, a couple of the editors – who did not wish to be identified - from the Indian media point out that while on the one hand, while they could live watching the cricket even if it hasn’t been competitive or exciting, they are unable to digest the overdose of Bollywood. Priety Zinta was found in the team dugout on the other day – and one certainly has to ask what business she had in the team dug out with a match in progress. How often have we found the owners of soccer teams in the EPL sitting in the team dugouts? My guess? Never!
Furthermore, the likes of Mandira Bedi and Shahrukh Khan taking a dig at Messers Duckworth and Lewis is a definite joke. One has to agree that even several cricket experts have expressed the D/L Method as being pretty complicated, but I should say – having gone through the manual and given I’ve been operating the D/L method for at least the last four years – that it isn’t as complicated as it is being made out to be. Messers Duckworth and Lewis have released an application which makes calculation of targets in interrupted matches easy – as easy as calculating a formula in Microsoft Excel. And for those who aren’t computer savy, there are clearly defined formulae that need to be followed depending upon the situations. So the next time you hear experts saying ‘D/L is complicated’ or ‘I can’t understand D/L’, you know whosoever said that hasn’t done their homework.
Now to look at events from on the field, one certainly has to agree that the cricket hasn’t been anywhere close to being exciting. Here are a few statistics from the first six games of IPL 2, and corresponding statistics from the first season to compare with:

Total Runs in first the six matches
Total wickets that fell in the first six matches
Total overs bowled in the first six matches
Average runs per wicket in the first six matches
Average run rate in the first six matches
Total fours hit in the first six matches
Total sixes hit in the first six matches
Last over finishes in the first six matches

Don’t the statistics themselves tell a story? Isn’t Twenty20 all about boundaries and sixes and the ball flying to all corners of the ground? This season is far from that – last season the average boundaries per match was 27, while this season the corresponding number is 19. And the average sixes per match was 14, while this season the corresponding number is 8.
Given these facts, one has to say apart from individual brilliance – like innings from Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Chris Gayle or Matthew Hayden, fantastic spells of bowling from Shane Warne, Lasith Malinga, Fidel Edwards or Anil Kumble, and some sensation run outs like Rohit Sharma’s direct hit to run out Ajit Agarkar - the IPL 2 package hasn’t been as appealing.