Tag Archive for 'Indian Premier League'

The confidence man

How Lalit Modi, possessed of inhuman energy, ambition and audacity, built a billion-dollar cricket kingdom—only to be rudely ejected from its throne. Samanth Subramanian in The Caravan:

Every spring, for the past three years—for the first three seasons of the Indian Premier League—Lalit Kumar Modi’s life would swing into a pattern of perpetual motion, his days filled with the kind of incessant activity that he promised to deliver to his audiences on the cricket field each evening. In the morning, if he hadn’t already flown out the previous night, Modi would eat breakfast—spartan, like all his meals—on his personal plane, en route to the first of that day’s IPL venues. (“That plane had golden toilet fittings,” recalls a passenger who rode along once, at Modi’s invitation, from Jaipur to New Delhi. “It was like a bloody throne.”) Once at the ground, Modi would begin to intensively micromanage events, striding in his characteristic quick, purposeful gait around the stadium. On his BlackBerry, which seemed to be welded into the palm of his hand, he would deliver clipped instructions. “He’s very fast with SMS,” said Dilip Cherian, a prominent public relations consultant who has worked with Modi and with his family’s businesses in the past. “He has to think as fast as he types.”

Over the course of a game day, Modi would eat little. He would smoke ceaselessly, but he would begin a cigarette, drag on it a couple of times, and then toss it away, as if each cigarette was just another one of the tasks he needed to strike off his To-Do list for the day. As the cricket commenced, Modi would sit, either in his own box or in the box of the home team, and mug for the Modicam, the camera deputed to follow him around in each game. He would chant team slogans and sing team songs, the metal rims of his spectacles glinting in the spotlights, his forehead often speckled with drops of perspiration, the knot of his tie always loosened and askew just so. (“This indicates,” one image consulting website self-seriously concluded in an analysis of Modi’s look, “that he is ‘casual’ with a ‘care-a-damn’ attitude and that he doesn’t bother about what people talk about him.”) But through all these lusty exhibitions of fandom, Modi would be acutely alert to the demands of his positions as IPL commissioner and as vice president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), his eyes always cocked for something going wrong—for an unwanted guest in an exclusive box, or for a brand not getting quite as much play as it had paid for.

Even during the famed after-parties that followed every match of the 2010 edition of the IPL—and indeed, during any party he threw—Modi visibly waltzed to the strains of his personal agenda. He would drink a glass of wine, two at the most, and he would circulate with rare enthusiasm. “If you’re at one of his parties,” a friend of Modi’s told me, “you don’t have to worry about going up to him to say ‘Hello.’ If he wants to speak to you, he’ll come to you. Otherwise you should just have a good time and go home.”

The party would end well after 3 am, and Modi would stay for its entire duration; then he would either fly out right away or get a few hours’ sleep before leaving early the next morning. Only once in two or three days would he go home—and that briefly, to either Mumbai or New Delhi—to replenish his shirts and Armani suits. (One media wag last year wondered whether Modi, always in fresh suits despite his relentless travel schedule, had an armoire of Armani trailing him around the IPL circuit.) “He had more energy than any of us players,” said a former Chennai Super King. “On game days, many of us had to go to the party till 4 am., and then leave on an 8 am flight to our next venue, and that was hectic enough. He did that daily.” More:

Got a girl, named Sue

Vrinda Gopinath on Sunanda Pushkar, friend of Shashi Tharoor, in Outlook:

Now, why does Sunanda Pushkar sound preposterous when she says it’s insulting to present her as just a proxy for good friend Shashi Tharoor, minister of state for external affairs, in the multi-million dollar IPL franchise sale? Because it’s a bit ambitious on her part to claim she’s a businesswoman in her own right when her present job profile says she is a mere sales manager at tecom Investments, a commercial real estate company in Dubai. But you’ve got to hand it to Pushkar, for her spunk and drive that took her from a gawkish girl from small-town Jammu two decades ago, to becoming swell Sue in Dubai and Toronto, to contriving her new image as swanky Sunanda, the brassy, bold entrepreneur of the eye-popping Emirates.

The belle from Bomai, a small apple-growing hamlet in Sopore, Kashmir, was convinced she was not cut out for the idyllic life of mofussil India, as she excitedly told her pals when she landed in Dubai in the early ’90s, and like the many hick-chicks before her, she took the marriage route to escape a dreary future. The teenaged Sunanda met and married fellow Kashmiri Pandit Sanjay Raina, a hotel management graduate, while she was still studying in the Government College for Women, Srinagar, between 1986 and 1988.

But it wasn’t Raina who took her to Dubai; it was his best friend, Sujith Menon, whom she married within two years of her failed first marriage. The couple landed in Dubai in the early ’90s—Menon settled in a job with the insurance company, Eagle Star, while Sunanda worked as an accounts exec with the marketing and ad agency, Bozell Prime. Their lives would have soon settled into a mundane routine if it were not for Sunanda’s hyper hunger to rise above the plain folks. She begged her friends for invitations to glam events and then cashed in on the ’90s marketing trends of organising small-time fashion shows. More:

Also in Outlook: Shashi Tharoor and his seven sins

Not just cricket – Bollywood treatment gives India its very own ‘Superbowling’

Click here to watch the IPL matches live on YouTube

The IPL, six weeks of razzmatazz and TV with a little sport, is predicted to double last year’s takings. Jason Burke in The Guardian:

It is already big and brash. It is about to get substantially bigger and brasher. At 8pm on Friday, hundreds of millions of people in India, from tea shops in Mumbai slums to plush Delhi suburbs and thousands of villages in between, will sit down to watch the Deccan Chargers play the Kolkata Knight Riders in the opening match of the third season of the Indian Premier League (IPL).

“If you thought the first two seasons were the ultimate cricket-meets-entertainment blockbusters then you haven’t seen anything yet,” enthused the Financial Express newspaper.

The IPL phenomenon cuts across all barriers of class, caste and income. At the exclusive Tollygunge Club in Kolkata – or Calcutta as it is often still known – staff will take a few hours out while members halt their golf, squash and riding. Both clientele and staff (more surreptitiously) will watch the fast and furious 20-over cricket shown on a big screen on the wall of the main bar. “It doesn’t matter who wins. It’s the game that counts,” said Sajad Mundal, the chief steward. For 10-year-old Anvam Najpal, sipping a soft drink that Mundal had just brought him, the tournament has already started. At his exclusive private school, a mini IPL, with just 10 overs played, is already under way. He is a Deccan Chargers fan. His dad however supports the Delhi Daredevils.

“But we will all watch it together,” he said. “Mum’s not that interested, but she’ll watch it with us. I really like seeing all the different people from all over the world playing together in unity.” More:

The case of the cricket snub

Salil Tripathi in the Wall Street Journal:

Call it the curious incident of the forgotten cricketers. After nearly two hours of a keenly watched auction on Jan. 19, the Indian Premier League’s eight cricket teams bought 11 of the 66 players from 11 countries on offer. But not one Pakistani player was picked.

India and Pakistan have long been enemies on the pitch, but such a public rejection of some of Pakistan’s best players (who are also some of the region’s best players) represents a dangerous new low. The auction process is an important part of the Premier League’s “Twenty20 cricket,” an entertaining, made-for-television, abbreviated form of the sport played in 16 countries.

Twenty20 cricket is not the traditional, seemingly endless version where men in white take a break for tea. Here a match lasts around three hours, with each team playing only 20 overs, trying to amass as many runs as possible and using unconventional techniques. Busty cheerleaders encourage them. And international players are traded just like they are in Major League Baseball or the English Premier League. The changes have drawn new, younger crowds and attracted millions of dollars of television advertising and a recent deal with YouTube. More:

An even pitch

Ayaz Memon in Mint-Lounge on India-Pakistan cricketing relations:

My late friend Omar Kureishi (whose crusty voice on radio brought Pakistan cricket alive for millions of followers from the 1950s till his death in 2005) had a simple solution for the subcontinent’s most vexing issue. “Keep the ruddy politicians out, and cricket will keep the people of India and Pakistan together.”

This came shortly after the Karachi one-day match had been disrupted by young men who had run on to the field and assaulted India captain Krishnamachari Srikkanth, ostensibly to advocate the “Kashmir cause”. Like a quintessential cricket romantic, Omar, despite his privileged education and understanding of realpolitik, could be reduced to utter dismay at the volatility of Indo-Pak relations, in which cricket would often become the first casualty.

“In 1961-62,” he related to me, after the Karachi incident, “Hanif Mohammad had his hand slashed by a ruffian’s blade. Why would anybody want to deprive millions of people from watching a master like Hanif, or a young prodigy like Tendulkar (who was making his international debut then) play unless they have been weaned on prejudice?” More

The editorial in Dawn, Karachi: The IPL uproar

It may well be true that reasons of politics sealed the fate of Pakistan’s T20 celebrities. Even so, there is no cause whatsoever for the Pakistani government to question the workings of a private venture in India that is first and foremost a moneymaking enterprise. And even if New Delhi is being duplicitous, as some allege, Islamabad should show more grace and refuse to mix politics and sports. Pakistani fans and players have every right to be outraged. Not so the Government of Pakistan. More:

Also from Dawn: News and comments from the Indian press in the aftermath of the exclusion of Pakistani cricketers from the Indian Premier League.

World’s top earning cricketers

The Forbes magazine has named Indian cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni as the top earning cricketer in the world last year. Forbes said that Dhoni earns $8 million in endorsements, from the brands like Reebok, General Electric and Pepsi, and the rest from his cricket salary and fees.

rich_cricketersWith its deep-pocketed owners and global appeal, the Indian Premier League (IPL) has shaken up professional cricket, luring top players from five continents with paychecks as big as $111,000 per three-hour match. That’s a stunning sum in a sport where domestic leagues have traditionally been an afterthought to the international version of the game.

While cricket is one of the most popular sports in the world (it’s played competitively in more than 100 countries), before the IPL launched last year, no domestic league was truly run as a business. But with IPL teams now paying top players as much as $1.55 million for just a five week season, versus $500,000 to $1 million, depending on the country, for an almost year-long slate of national team games, cricket is in the midst of a dramatic shift. More:

[Graphic: HT]

Night of the screamers

Why the commentators’ desperate hawking of the IPL may have started to work against the tournament. Gideon Haigh at cricinfo:

It’s working. Two weeks of the second season of the Indian Premier League and it’s finally been drummed into me who the damn sponsors are. Thanks. Thanks a lot. Now GO AWAY!

Actually, had I money to invest, I’d be wondering why DLF, presently being squeezed by slumping property values and a share price a quarter of its peak, and Citigroup, insolvent but for Barack Obama’s indulgence, were wasting shareholders’ funds on staking sixes and endowing so-called “success”. As I don’t, I’ll simply vary that old Bob Hope gag concerning the night he went to a boxing title fight and a game of ice hockey broke out: the IPL is fast degenerating into a series of three-hour advertisements through which are sometimes discernible glimmers of cricket.

Cricket, of course, has much to thank television for. How much richer is our appreciation of a Shane Warne legbreak or a Kevin Pietersen cover-drive for the luxury of studying it, frozen in time; when we can hover over each detail of the harmonious human mechanism. But either Lalit Modi is pumping nitrous oxide into the commentary box, or the IPL is bearing out JK Galbraith’s observation that television allows for persuasion with no minimum standard of literacy or intelligence. More:

‘Insider’ spills beans on SRK’s Knight Riders

From the Times of India:

knight-ridersShah Rukh Khan has spent a lot of money building up PR for Kolkata Knight Riders. He’s hired the right firms, been out there in the public just about all the time; there’ve been parties, press conferences, cheerleaders, music and almost all the right kind of bytes given by the superstar himself.

Yet, he’s a troubled man. That’s not just because KKR got off to bad start or that relations between ex-captain Sourav Ganguly and coach John Buchanan continue to be strained. It’s mainly got to do with an unknown blogger – who claims to be a KKR team member – bent on letting the cat out of the bag all the time.

The blogger – calling himself Fake IPL Player – is sure he’ll never be a part of the playing XI. “But, there’s one thing I do very well. Serve drinks. And that’s what I am expecting do in South Africa,” he writes. Read the rest of the story:

And here’s the ink to the blog fakeiplplayer.blogspot.com

Old and beautiful

Men written off, men supposedly past their primes, have proved that the IPL, and the world, belong not to youth or any other category. Peter Roebuck at cricinfo:

aksimpleOnly in golf and marathons, individual and easily measured activities, is age not regarded as a handicap. Elsewhere the bright young things are to the fore, with their daredevilry. As much can be told from observing tennis tournaments and leading soccer matches.

Inevitably cricket fell into line. It’s not so much that teams have become younger – Australia haven’t, and India are not exactly overburdened with striplings. Just that there are fewer players staying into their late 30s. Partly it has been desire: the hectic modern touring schedules stretch the sanity of the older brigade. Partly it has been the public’s irresistible urge to find new faces. Perhaps, too, the vintages found Test cricket too hard and 50-over capers too plentiful to be enjoyable.

Recognising the signs, Anil Kumble, Shane Warne, Sourav Ganguly, Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden and others declared their innings closed. Only Rahul Dravid clung to the wreckage, and his end seemed to be at hand.

No one blamed them for taking the easy money to play in the IPL or ICL. After all those years of distinguished service, they were entitled to a last waltz. Moreover, they would bring glamour to the competition and give pleasure to crowds. Of course they might play badly, but a million dollars covers an awful lot of dented pride, and anyhow their records were written in stone.


Cricket entering new golden age with greed its greatest enemy

In The Times, UK,

I keep reading that “cricket is the new football”. That is odd because that was what was being said in 2005, when the Ashes series was gripping a wider than usual proportion of the British public, just as last year’s ICC World Twenty20 tournament in South Africa captivated much of India’s vast population or the explosive fast bowling of Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson enthused Australians, among them Kerry Packer, in 1974-75.

Cricket’s popularity ebbs and flows, like the game itself, but it keeps flowing. Not because it is the new football, but because it is the old cricket, a series of duels between a batsman and a bowler in a team context and varying conditions, a game demanding as much skill, fitness and courage as most others and greater discipline, technique and intelligence than any.


No cheerleaders, please. We’re Indians

[Updated on May 2]

Namita Bhandare in Mint

Why do I have a sneaking suspicion that the moral grandstanding on the Indian Premier League, or IPL, cheerleader controversy has the elements of a pre-written script with the dramatis personae mouthing predictable lines? First, the cast of characters: Siddharam Mehetre is Maharashtra’s minister of state for home. He finds cheerleaders and their performance “absolutely obscene” and out of place in a country where “womanhood is worshipped”.


Maharashtra’s moral police wants to ban cheereaders from IPL matches played in the state for their ‘vulgar’ and ‘obscene’ performance. Some conservative politicians would not like these girls to perform at the Indian Premier League’s upcoming matches in the state’s capital city, Bombay (Mumbai).

Many IPL franchisees have brought in foreign cheerleaders to add a bit of US-style glitz to the popular game. While cricket fans are not complaining, these politicians are not amused. They say that in a country where “womanhood is worshipped,” cheerleaders are “an affront” to Indian culture. And they ask: “How can anything obscene like this be allowed?”

Result? The state government gives in to the moral police. The franchisees will have to apply for permits before cheerleaders can be allowed to perform in Mumbai. If the cheerleaders “indulge in obscenity,” the franchisees will be fined.

However, Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan, who owns the IPL team Kolkata Knight Riders, does not find anything vulgar about cheerleaders. “I am also a family person, I do not see anything negative in it,” he said

National Commission for Women Girija Vyas said “we should promote our culture by bringing folk dancers and musicians in these matches.”

More here, here, here and here

And as for the cheerleaders themselves, they have some harrowing stories: “It’s been horrendous,” Tabitha, a cheerleader from Uzbekistan, told the Hindustan Times. “Wherever we go we do expect people to pass lewd, snide remarks but I’m shocked by the nature and magnitude of the comments people pass here.” Another cheerleader, Christy, told The Telegraph, Calcutta, “If they want us to be fully clad, we don’t mind.”

More here:

Body politics: bahu okay, others bawdy

From The Telegraph, Calcutta:

From the Indian Politician’s Dictionary, edited by Amar Singh, Amitabh Bachchan’s “younger brother”:

Single standards: If Mumbai bar girls are banned, so should be the Indian Premier League’s pom-pom girls.

Obscene: What the Washington Redskins wear, but not what “bahu” Aishwarya Rai wore in Dhoom:2

[Photos: Left, a cheerleader at an IPL match in Bangalore; right, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in the movie Dhoom:2]


The revolution is underway

For those who missed the Indian Premier League inaugural game — and the fun, here’s the over-by-over account of the Bangalore Royal Challengers v Kolkata Knight Riders match. Andy Bull in The Guardian, UK:


And the news is that… Bangalore have won the toss and will bowl first.

So, ah, who plays for them again then? Bangalore are playing: Rahul Dravid (capt), Balachandra Akhil, Mark Boucher (wk), Wasim Jaffer, Sunil Joshi , Jacques Kallis, Zaheer Khan, Virat Kohli, Praveen Kumar, Ashley Noffke, Cameron White.

While Kolkata have: Sourav Ganguly (capt), Ajit Agarkar, Debabrata Das, David Hussey, Murali Kartik, Brendon McCullum (wk), Mohammad Hafeez, Ricky Ponting, Wriddhiman Saha, Ishant Sharma, Laxmi Ratan Shukla.

My man to watch: Cameron White, of my dear beloved Somerset. He’s scored two of the three top scores in the history of Twenty20.

1st over: Kolkata 3-0 (Ganguly 0 McCullum 0) The crowd is huge, and the atmosphere is not unlike what you’d expect at a major cup final. Opening the bowling, dressed in red and yellow pyjamas, is Praveen Kumar. Ganguly pads the first ball away to square leg for a single leg bye. He’s wearing a marvellous gold helmet, like an extra from Gladiator. The second ball is a vicious off-cutter, jagging back in and beating McCullum’s attempted cut shot.


And some clips from the opening ceremony:


And previously in AW:

If it works, Indian Premier League will transform cricket

Huw Richards in International Herald Tribune:

If there were any doubt about the India Premier League’s being a major international sporting event, it was ended this week as the league and the news media staged one of those stand-up arguments about coverage and intellectual property rights that have become an invariable part of the prelude to World Cups in all sports.

Not that there was ever much doubt about the league’s status. Ever since the owners of the eight franchises threw vast sums at the world’s prime talent at the IPL player auction on Feb. 20, it has been a given that cricket world would never be the same again. The only debate has been as to whether the change will be beyond recognition or not.

Scyld Berry, editor of the Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack and one of the most historically aware journalists, argued in his newspaper column last week that Friday’s opening day – when Bangalore Royal Challengers entertain Calcutta Knight Riders – marks the beginning of a fourth phase in cricket’s long history.


Lights, cameras, dancing girls and cash? Ready. Now for the action . . .

In The Times, UK, Alan Lee reports from Bangalore:

A vast placard gazes down on the shrieking traffic outside the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium. “Born in Bangalore to thrill the nation” it declares amid moody images of the players who will launch cricket’s latest revolution tomorrow. Near by, a small, sober poster reminds us that it will also be World Heritage Day.

If cricket had a similar occasion, a movement to protect its sacred customs, it would rail against the Indian Premier League (IPL). It may also ponder the irony of such irreverence being the product of a country whose population used to see the traditional game as a temple.


Get ready for the cheerleaders

From The Times, UK:

The thud you can hear is the sound of jaws dropping at MCC: India’s first cheerleading squad is about to high-kick its way into the venerable sport of cricket.

On Friday the Washington Redskins cheerleaders, usually found urging on the American football side of the same name, will make their subcontinental debut when they take to the field for the Bangalore Royal Challengers, the newly created cricket team.


Click here for everything you wanted to know about the Indian Premier League:

India’s game, U.S. spice

Tunku Varadarajan in The New York Times:

In the blink of an eye, India has gone from faith, prudence and chastity to … Brittany, Courtney and Tiffani. On Sunday, a team of Washington Redskins cheerleaders landed in Bangalore to help create India’s first cheerleading squad.

According to the Redskins’ Web site, the cheerleaders will “conduct a national audition of Indian women.” The aim of the exercise is to set up a squad of indigenous pompom wielders for the Bangalore Royal Challengers, one of eight teams that will play in the Indian Premier League, a rich new Indian cricket league.


The story on the Redskins’ site:

Reverse sweepstakes

The Indian Premier League is, perhaps, the final step in cricket’s journey to becoming a 21st century business enterprise. Rajdeep Sardesai in Hindustan Times:

My father was obviously born in the wrong generation. For his first Test for the country in 1961, he got a cheque of Rs 150. When he was part of the historic 1971 win in West Indies and England, he got the princely sum of Rs 750 per match. Contrast that with a Robin Uthappa, who without a single international century, is already a crorepati many times over. Or an Ishant Sharma, who after his first international tour, is already lining up mega-contracts. My own favourite story of cricket from another generation is related by the legendary Bishen Singh Bedi. In 1956, India defeated New Zealand in four days in a Test match. The team, paid Rs 50 per day at the time, did not receive an allowance for the fifth day. When one of the players dared to ask a cricket official for an additional Rs 50, he was curtly told, “Who asked you to win the match in four days?”


Tango with cash

Is all this for real, asks Pradeep Magazine in Hindustan Times:

Or was one watching owners of fat cheque-books sitting in a casino and massaging their egos by throwing mindboggling sums at star cricketers? Shahrukh Khan, the owner of the Kolkata team, found the whole bidding process so thrilling that he said he was getting ‘addicted’ to it. IS Bindra, a BCCI official, and a former Indian Administrative Service officer, had never seen a day like this in his life “ever”. Has cricket in India entered the age of sponsored gambling where its stake-holders are abdicating their responsibility and letting the ‘free-market’ forces take control of the sport?


1.5m reasons why India loves Andrew Symonds

Jamie Pandaram in The Sydney Morning Herald:


Andrew Symonds offered one major reason why he didn’t want to tour Pakistan yesterday afternoon, and hours later Indian Premier League franchise Hyderabad gave him over a million more, making the all-rounder Australia’s highest-paid Twenty20 player.

Symonds was at the centre of the recent racism row and his relationship with India said to be in tatters but money spoke louder than words at the IPL auction in Mumbai overnight as he was purchased for $1.47 million per year, second only to India’s one-day captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who collected $1.65m to play for Chennai.


Let the bidding begin

Seventy nine cricketers to eight franchises in the Indian Premier League go under the hammer today. The Times has the story:


The last time Richard Madley was in the newspapers for a cricket auction, he was handling the sale of a collection of ties and saucy seaside postcards once owned by Brian Johnston. Today’s auction is rather less frivolous. When Madley, a lifelong Glamorgan supporter, starts work in the ballroom of the Oberoi Hilton in Bombay, $40million (about £20million) will be at stake.

Madley, an auctioneer with Dreweatts, the British firm, will handle today’s sale of 79 cricketers to the eight franchises in the Indian Premier League (IPL), the new Twenty20 competition that will start on April 18, and anticipation has become feverish.

“I’ve just been mobbed outside the hotel,” Madley said yesterday. “They say that cricket is a religion here, but it appears to be a bit more than that.”


And for all the dope on IPL, Hindustan Times has a dummies guide:

What is the IPL ?
The Indian Premier League is a professional twenty20 cricket league created and promoted by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and backed by the International Cricket Council.

The IPL works on a franchise-system based on the American style of hiring players and transfers. These franchises were put for auction, where the highest bidder won the rights to own the team, representing each city. The auction took place on January 24, 2008 and the total base price for the auction was $400 million. The auction went on to fetch $723.59 million.


Cricket’s brand new age

Bollywood stars vied with industry leaders for the privilege of owning regional cricket teams in India. Ashok Malik analyses the stakes on Cricinfo.

Father Christmas usually arrives in December, but it’s been a windfall January for the BCCI. Two deals, one for television rights and the other for eight city-specific franchise teams, have fetched the Indian Premier League (IPL) close to $ 1.75 billion.

Of course, that figure is not as dazzling as it looks. Part of the TV rights money will go to the eight teams and so the franchise bids need to be discounted to that extent. That aside, these are ten-year agreements: it’s not as if the IPL – or its promoter, the BCCI – is about to encash one mega cheque.