Numbers are already telling a story if one goes listening. Expect this year’s IPL to crash through the roof in what is going to be a television-only event. What’s possibly a question surrounding this unique edition is whether the cricketers – who’ve spent close to five months in isolation – can deliver from the word go.
Zaheer Khan, the director of cricket at Mumbai Indians, says modern-day sport has reached a stage today where individuals need to prepare for all kinds of unforeseen scenarios. “As a professional athlete you have to find a way of keeping that mental space which you would like to be in. It varies individually and that’s something every individual has to take care and own that individual space. I won’t say it was difficult but different for sure with the new normal. It was just a matter of getting used to the new routines. The preparations have changed, and we must keep up with that,” the former India pacer told TOI.
Chennai Super Kings, who took a jolt due to Covid as soon as they landed in UAE, have now settled down and are in a far better space going into the tournament. Despite their practice sessions being delayed by a week, CSK’s CEO Kasi Viswanathan says: “The boys have had a good 10 days of practice and all are in good shape. The team is confident of doing well”.
The good news for the CSK camp is that Dwayne Bravo, Mitchell Santner and Imran Tahir have joined and are in the six-day quarantine. “They will be available for the first match while Josh Hazelwood and Sam Curran will join after the ODI series,” Viswanathan says, underlining the team is shaping up well.
Broadcasters Star expects this year’s IPL to crash through the roof in terms of numbers, considering it’s going to be a television-only event.
“Cricket-starved fans are eagerly waiting to watch their favourite players back in action. With matches beginning at 7.30pm, fewer double headers and stay at home fans, we are confident of setting a new viewership record,” says Star Sports CEO Gautam Thakar.
Kolkata Knight Riders, another leading franchise, is equally enthusiastic about the season, and CEO Venky Mysore says KKR is grateful that IPL is happening in these unusual times.
“Compliments to IPL for thinking through complex issues and making it a collaborative process. Having gone through CPL most recently, there are not only a lot of learning, but we also understand the challenges involved. The easiest thing to do would have been to cancel this season and look for 2021. We also remind ourselves not to underestimate the risk & therefore full compliance is a must,” says Mysore.
Other franchises too are gearing up to the occasion as the start of a very unique IPL draws near. Despite the obvious concerns, stakeholders seem to be of the clear view that the ‘show will go on’.