By T S Sudhir
I was a passionate follower of the IPL the first three seasons. Not so this time. I still watch the occasional game from the 18th over onwards but the connect is missing.
And I know why.
For a tournament that draws its strength from city loyalty, I as a Hyderabadi am unable to root for Deccan Chargers. The team that changed its horns completely before IPL 4, has virtually no local talent in its team. Barring a Pragyan Ojha and a Ravi Teja. Even these two don’t get to play all the games. Somehow there is little to connect with a Sanga, Dale Steyn, Ishant and an Amit Mishra. Or Dan Christian for that matter. Jesus, get me some Hyderabadi biryani and double ka meetha ballebaaz-gendbaaz please.
If Chennai can have an Ashwin, a Murali Vijay and a Badrinath, why not Hyderabad? And if IPL isn’t going to be a cradle to nurture local talent and just be a Page 3 kind pyjama cricket, is it worth all the hoopla and the hype?
For city leagues to click, you need to establish a connect between the city and city cricketers. By retaining Dhoni beyond the first three seasons, Chennai Super Kings were able to whistle loud that when it comes to the IPL, MSD is Madras Singh Dhoni. Ditto with Tendulkar. You wouldn’t give away your Marathi manoos to Kochi or Bangalore, would you? And Shane Warne, who lives life king size, truly fits in with the Hurley-burly of Rajasthani Royal life !
Gilly `Tum bahoot khubsoorat ho’ Hyderabadi was just beginning to acquire an address in apoon ka Banjara Hills when Darren Lehmann and Co. decided to let him sport a `Preity’ Punjabi turban instead. Laxman of course led a very very sad existence in the DC dugout and his experience with the Chargers hardly made him bullish about this format of the game. Then there is the talented Venugopal Rao who is doing his daredevilry for Delhi this time. And Ambati Rayudu, that talented powerhouse, virtually chased out of Hyderabad cricket, has finally found a big saviour in the Little Master.
Probably that is the reason when Delhi boys Virat Kohli and Gautam Gambhir led Bangalore and Kolkata respectively to victory over their `home’ team, it hurt `saadi Dilli’ much more. As a Dilliwaala of 21 years, I would have loved to see these two guys be Viru’s lieutenants. Bread pakode ki kasam. SRK don’t mind.