Bengaluru, Sept. 29: When the world ushered in 2020 little did anyone know what they were heading into. The coronavirus pandemic, which raised its ugly head in December 2019, brought the world to a screeching halt.
Normal? We all forgot what normal was and nowadays we are living by what we call the 'new normal'.
Sports, travel, outings, everything stopped overnight as the world went into lockdown.
Indian cricket fans were eagerly waiting for the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League to kick off. But the biggest T20 carnival was delayed indefinitely when India went into complete lockdown on March 25th, just days before the IPL was set to commence.
With everyone cooped up in their homes and work from home becoming the new normal, the lack of sports frustrated both the players as well as the fans.
After months of anticipation and delay, BCCI president Sourav Ganguly announced that the league would be moved out of the country and would be held behind closed doors in the UAE. The three venues picked for the tournament included Sharjah, Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
IPL - without fans? Now that's something everyone struggled to grapple with. The cheers, the cheerleaders, the oooos and ahhss, the emotions - would all be missing. While the fans wondered whether they would enjoy sitting and watching the games from the comforts of their home, there were questions raised as to whether the big players will be able to perform up to the mark without their loyal fans. But little did they know that the season would be a blockbuster from the onset.
When the league finally kicked off on September 19th, with defending champions Mumbai Indians playing Chennai Super Kings, the wonderful sight of the game back on the big screen gave fans unparalleled joy. Something they did not think they would witness this year. From keeping a tab of the death count from the virus, the focus shifted to the scoreboard as they soaked in the excitement that a T20 match brought with it.
And just 10 days into the tournament, and the season has gotten off to an unbelievable start. Out of the ten matches, four have seen the score go past the 200+ mark already. 153 sixes have already been scored in the first ten days. And that's saying something.
The matches have been close, going down to the wire. As we've seen there have been some surprise packages already, while some of the big hitters have failed to get going. The ball has gone out of the park on several occasions, with a passerby gleefully picking up a ball MS Dhoni had hit out of the park. While some old stories repeated themselves, new ones have been written.
The season has already witnessed two matches being decided via Super Overs. Looks like that's becoming the new normal in IPL this season. The first match to go into Super Over was the Kings XI Punjab vs Delhi Capitals match, which was won by Delhi in the Superover. But that match gave us a dose of controversy as well. An umpiring blunder which eventually cost KXIP the match. The other match to go into the superover was the tie between Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Mumbai Indians, which RCB won in the superover.
Talking about umpiring blunders, MS Dhoni, who returned to competitive cricket after 437 days, has already made it to the front page on several occasions. While Dhoni was left unhappy with an umpire decision, the former Indian cricketer's decision to bat down the order has also raised eyebrows, with fans and critics question the CSK skipper. Dhoni's decision has left fans unhappy especially because the former champions have won only one out of their three matches so far.
While we are focusing on the controversies, former India cricketer, the legendary Sunil Gavaskar, found himself facing immense backlash after he commented on Virat Kohli's wife Anushka Sharma, while talking about Kohli's poor show with the bat this season. Though Gavaskar clarified his comments, he faced backlash from Anushka and netizens wanted Gavaskar removed from the commentary panel.
Apart from the dose of controversy, camaraderie, the season has already witnessed several records matched and broken. One such record, included Rajasthan Royals win over Kings XI Punjab. The Punjab team set a massive target of 223 and the Royals, powered by Sanju Samson, Steve Smith and Rahul Tewatia completed the highest run chase of the IPL with 3 balls left.
Superovers, bad decisions, high scores, powerful sixes and shocking turnarounds - one could not have asked for a better start to the season. And with the world going through such a tough time, a good game surely helps you take your mind off the grim reality. Even without the fans, the IPL season has been a blockbuster so far, and the remaining matches are bound to up the excitement quotient for both players and fans.