There is a feeling of déjà vu whenever a new IPL season starts and this time it’s been no different. The first week of IPL – 12 and the pattern has been much the same – huge hits, big crowds, the dominance of the bat over ball, closely fought matches and a couple of one sided games, a super over finish and controversies. All these will be repeated over the next few weeks till the tournament ends in the second week of May. Interest will not slacken and supporters of the eight franchisees will follow with bated breath their team’s fortunes and it is clear that over the years their loyalty has become that much more intense.
As far as the teams are concerned, perhaps not unexpectedly defending champions Chennai Super Kings have taken an early lead winning all their three matches. On the other hand occupying cellar position are Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bangalore having lost all their three matches. But as we have seen in the past the format gives even such teams the opportunity to keep climbing while at the other end of the scale teams that have started well have frequently faltered and even failed to make the play offs. Yes, with each side having 14 games, home and away, the chance is there to override even two or three bad games and yet be successful.
How much of an impact the IPL is going to have on selection to the World Cup squad is a moot point but there is no doubt that a really outstanding performance by one of the fringe players can play a part in his selection. Yes, this is T-20 and the World Cup is ODIs but the two remain shorter formats of the game and in many ways the skills required are the same.
No IPL is free of controversies but it must be said that this year in just over a week the tournament has had more than its share. The Ashwin – Buttler run out drama, umpire Sundaram Ravi overlooking the no ball off the last ball of the game and a couple of other minor incidents have dominated the headlines, even prompting the experts to ask for changes in the rules. But they have also been excellent performances underlined by three hundreds and two four wicket hauls. A keen contest for the places in the play offs also cannot be ruled out.