A week into IPL II and the doomsday predictions have it that the TRP ratings are down and the second edition of the happening tournament has failed to generate the kind of interest it did last year.
A week into IPL II and the doomsday predictions have it that the TRP ratings are down and the second edition of the happening tournament has failed to generate the kind of interest it did last year. Both in attendances at the ground and in the TV viewership IPL II has failed to match the inaugural edition.
The reasons are not hard to decipher. For one thing anything staged in India is bound to garner a more positive response than anywhere else in the cricketing world – particularly when the tournament concerned is very much Indian, with typical Indian names for the teams despite all the international participation involved. Secondly cricket fans brought up on the Twenty20 are used to seeing fours and sixes, the ball hit hard and high and are not used to a more equal battle between bat and ball which has been the case on the more responsive pitches in South Africa. If on Indian wickets a total of 180 - 190 was par for the course it appears that 160 is par on South African pitches.
Of course there have been a few one sided matches and the rain that has interfered with a couple of games has not helped. But there are indications that things are brightening and the thrilling match on Thursday between Rajasthan Royals and Kolkata Knight Riders that ended in a tie and saw a bowl-out being deployed was perhaps just the kind of tonic that IPL II needed to swing into top gear. Coming to think of it the pyrotechnics of AB de Villiers in the earlier match between Delhi Daredevils and Chennai Super Kings could also play a part in sparking off fresh interest in the tournament.
Surely the general elections both in South Africa and India must also be a major reason for the low TRP ratings. In India make no mistake there is tremendous excitement about the IPL. The discussions in offices and homes, at pubs and on the streets still centre round the cricketing happenings in South Africa. Hotels, clubs and restaurants have all put up giant screens for patrons to view the matches while ads are seen liberally in newspapers, magazines, television and hoardings. Cricket fans still stay up late to see the live telecasts. The overall excitement I would say is not much less than last year. But it is a fact that news about the ongoing national elections also vies for space in newspapers and on television and figures quite high in the discussions among the general public.
For that matter reports have it that the general elections in South Africa have overshadowed the media hype over IPL II after the initial frenzy of the opening games in Cape Town. On Thursday, as the results began streaming in, even the sports pages in mainstream newspapers were reduced as the elections, regarded to be the most critical since the first democratic elections in 1994, took up most of the space.
That has not deterred organizers of the IPL who are continuing their unprecedented advertising campaign, buying up full page advertisements in newspapers. They seem confident that with the elections in South Africa over interest in the IPL will heighten. The weather is bound to improve and as the tournament gathers momentum the authorities are upbeat that IPL II will live up to all the hype and expectations.
It can be predicted with some certainty that the final league table will not be as clear cut as it was last time and there will be a keen tussle for the semifinal berths. The zig zag pattern of the matches makes pre-game predictions meaningless. As far as I am concerned, there can never really be a favourite team in Twenty20. The entire format is a gamble, a lottery and all teams take on each other on level terms. Spotting the semifinalists is a hazardous exercise and all I will say is that every one of the eight competing teams has a more or less equal chance of making the last four stage.
Oh yes, the low TRP ratings are only for starters. There is still a whole month before IPL II concludes and I venture to forecast that before the final on May 24 the tournament will be acknowledged to have provided as much excitement – if not more – than the inaugural edition.