Yet another edition of the Indian Premier League has gone by, heralding the triumph of the spirit of sport. There will be many assessments of the success or otherwise of the IPL. But from any standpoint, it was a mega event. IPL has a huge brand value. It is regarded as the world’s toughest and most competitive Twenty20 tournament. The broadcasters set a new global record for viewership this year. It had 18.6 million concurrent viewers streaming the final between Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians. According to reports, Star Sports spent $2.55 billion on five years of exclusive broadcasting and digital rights for the IPL — a five-fold increase on the annual value of the previous deal. It has wide acceptance of viewership not only in India but also outside the country. The stadiums in all the eight venues were packed to the brim prompting Sachin Tendulkar to comment that IPL is here to stay.
The matches throughout the tournament were exciting with a few of them ending in last-ball results, including the humdinger of a final. Mumbai Indians made history as they became the first team to win the IPL Trophy four times. The IPL has set a new trend — only the best can survive the tough test. More importantly, it was an incident-free tournament given that the general elections are going on simultaneously. There were apprehensions about the full tournament being held in the country or whether it will go the 2009 and 2014 way, when it was held in South Africa and Dubai respectively. This calls for a tribute to Indian security. Mumbai Indians emerged as champions but as skipper Rohit Sharma rightly said, a lot of planning and strategy went into their campaign. It cannot, however, be said of Chennai Super Kings who had an ageing side that managed to reach the final. The sheer presence of Mahendra Singh Dhoni can lift a team and as coach Stephen Fleming said ‘Thalaiva’ is an inspiration not only to the fans of Chennai but also to the rest of the country. Dhoni has become a cult figure like the Messis or Ronaldos of football. This year, with a change in name and with the induction of Sourav Ganguly as adviser, Delhi Capitals made fantastic progress before being tripped by CSK. But the spirit of the young team led by Shreyas Iyer caught the attention.
The tournament had a flip side too with a few umpiring decisions that were glaring. Kings XI Ravichandran Ashwin’s ‘Mankading’ of Jos Buttler of Rajasthan Royals had the cricketing world debating whether the decision was right. Or Sundaram Ravi overlooking a ‘blatant’ no-ball in Bengaluru or third umpire Nigel Llong’s decision on Dhoni’s run out in the final resulted in bitterness. Now the action shifts to the World Cup in England. Rohit Sharma allayed fears that IPL would take a toll on players and said it would instead put the players in the right frame of mind.