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A chunk of Indian Premier League 7, 2014 games will be hosted in the United Arab Emirates. Abhishek Mukherjee tries to explore the pros and cons of the decision.
It has been five years since South Africa had hosted the Indian Premier League (IPL) version of 2009. The event, of course, had given South Africa a significant financial boost — as it had done to the behemoth itself. The gala event that lasts for a month, the one where Danny Morrison carries burdens completely different from the New Zealand bowling attack and one got to see Shilpa Shetty more often than Cheteshwar Pujara, has been rolling on for the previous five years.
The IPL has finally come to a halt by the same force that had stopped them five years back (and will, in all probability, be doing the same at five-year-intervals): a somewhat more significant event called the Indian General Elections. The irony of watching Mumbai Indians (MI) taking on Delhi Delhi Daredevils (DD) in a clash in Abu Dhabi in a tournament called the IPL will be lost on most: with cheerleaders around, nobody cares for irony anyway.
The pros and cons of the IPL have been decided by many. One of the less-discussed questions, however, is: will the tournament being hosted in a non-Test playing nation serve any good to the global cricket?
Of course, United Arab Emirates (UAE) will get a financial boost (which will be equivalent to taking Ishant Sharma to Dr Batra’s), but what about world cricket in general? UAE, of course, have the necessary infrastructure most countries cannot provide with, which should be good for the tournament. The other option, of course, was Bangladesh (suffering from back-to-back high-profile Twenty20 (T20) competitions would have been challenging, but they could really have done with the moolah).
If the first leg of the tournament generates substantial response (which it ought to, given the high percentage of non-residential Indians in the country) will The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) make another effort to host the IPL in UAE again? Revenue earned from match tickets will certainly be higher, but that would hardly count when pitted against advertising rights. Barring physical proximity to the International Cricket Council (ICC) Headquarters there will not be any apparent benefit for BCCI from the tournament.
However, if BCCI decides to host a few matches in UAE, it may re-establish the country’s importance as a cricket venue, rekindling memories of the 1990s. In the process it may also help cricket develop in the country that had been languishing in cricket obscurity in recent past.
That may be the best thing to emerge from the tournament.
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