IPL braced for perception battle

India, Jan. 3 -- The Indian Premier League registered a sharp drop in footfalls and eyeballs in 2011, and it was promptly blamed on the tournament starting within days of the World Cup, which India won at home. It was pointed out by many experts that the World Cup had left the spectators drained and they had no energy and enthusiasm left for the IPL. It sounded logical.

This season, there was a slight improvement in the overall interest although there were serious concerns that the India team's debacle in Australia would badly hit the enthusiasm among the followers for the franchise Twenty20 league. As we look ahead with the 2013 IPL edition still at some distance, there are concerns that the response from fans could be lukewarm again.

Many issues

There is more than one reason. The India team have had a forgettable 2012. What started with a Test series rout in Australia, ended with their first home series defeat for eight years against England. Fans and experts have raised questions about a lack of forward planning for the national teams, pointed out MS Dhoni's captaincy losing its sheen, particularly in Tests. The national team of the country staging the richest T20 league also failed to reach the World T20 semifinal last year.

There is also disappointment that the IPL, which was launched with the promise that it would help promote Indian cricket, has failed to live up to that pledge made in 2008. Instead, many blame the T20 league for the players losing the skill needed to excel in Tests.

This is a perception battle that the organisers of the league will have to battle. That has unfortunately proved to be a myth. Ravindra Jadeja is flaunted as its best product but he has yet to prove he belongs in the longer formats. So, the goodwill for IPL will be in short supply this time. The economic slump and the dipping rupee against dollar that has consequences for foreign players, can add to the chill.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.


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