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May 14, 2009

Samir Chopra

Have you found your IPL team?

Samir Chopra

A couple of weeks ago, I announced my intention to give this year's IPL a go, i.e., to try and see if I could get myself to support a team in cricket that was not a national representative side. I picked two teams: the Delhi Daredevils, because, I'm from Delhi (I still say that even though I left 'home in 1987), and Kings XI Punjab, because, well, my last name says so. I went for hometown and ethnic affiliation. I bought myself a broadband video package that gives me live telecasts,replays and highlights of all the games. I even baited Mumbai fans, just to get myself pumped up.

I'm not sure that all of this has worked for me. The first indication of this came in the Delhi vs. Chennai game on May 2nd. Delhi were chasing Chennai's 163, and to be honest, I was getting into the swing of things. After Dilshan fell with the score at 53, Dinesh Karthik and David Warner came together, and seemed to be taking Delhi toward Chennai's total. Both were batting well, and victory looked within sight. And since both players are not Delhi locals, my support for them could be seen to be a reasonably good indicator of the IPL's ability to overcome my desire to have just homegrown folks playing for my hometowns team. Of course, I've admired Karthik as a player for the Indian team (and even had high hopes he would find a permanent place in the side) so I'm sure that played some part in my perceptions of the situation.

But something interesting happened in the 16th over. Shadab Jakati, a young Goan spinner, who had already impressed me by bowling Dilshan with a beauty, was in action, and after being hit for two fours by Karthik, came on to bowl to Warner. At that moment, rather than wishing that Delhi continue their charge, I found myself cheering for the Indian youngster against the Australian newbie. Suddenly, my desire to see Delhi, supposedly my team, beat Chennai, was eclipsed my desire to see an Indian spinner put one over the Aussie bludgeoner. When Jakati had Warner stumped, I was delighted. Guile had done in power, always a good result to see in Twenty20, and an Indian lad had done in an Aussie one. National pride had poked its head up.

Delhi lost the game, and I went back to being disappointed when locals Manhas, Sangwan and Bhatia all failed to support Karthik adequately. Somehow, in the midst of a Delhi-Chennai game, Id managed to let an India-Australia matchup distract me.

And then of course, there was the Delhi-Mumbai game; if there was a game I should have been able to get excited about, it was this one. But somehow, at the end, when Delhi had won, it was hard to convince myself that we had put one over the old enemy. Indeed, I couldn't even bring myself to send a gloat or two to my Mumbai friends (the ones who cared about the result, that is). I'm really not sure why this was the case, and to date, I'm no closer to understanding why a Delhi-Mumbai game didn't get me riled up. Was it because I don't think these are 'real' Delhi and Mumbai outfits? I've heard some Mumbai fans disown this unit as just "Ambani's lot", and yet others say "A Mumbai team is a Mumbai team". But I do know that my reactions on beating Mumbai in a Ranji game would not have been as muted as they were in beating them in their IPL matchup.

So the IPL's charms haven't worked on me as yet. Perhaps if I was matching the games with friends in tow, my reactions would have been different. It's hard to get really excited about an IPL game when you are watching it alone at home on a 19-inch monitor. The lack of such company (noted in the comments section in my last post on the IPL by reader Anabayan) is crucial, and it will be the subject of my next post.

Samir Chopra lives in Brooklyn and teaches Philosophy at the City University of New York. He tweets here

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Posted by Divyanshu Gupta on (May 19, 2009, 11:00 GMT)

Going to Ranji Delhi vs Mumbai, It will be fun watching the full strenth team (BCCI permitting) Viru, Gambhir, Ishant, Sangwan, Nehra, Akash Chopra, Rajat Bhatia Vs Sachin, Zaheer, Rahane, Nayar, Let's hope for some break from International cricket

Posted by Sam on (May 18, 2009, 9:24 GMT)

I haven't really been able to follow the IPL, since as a poor student in England Satellite TV is not really within my reach. I watched some last year and found that watching from a neutral point of view could be entertaining, someting that does not happen when I watch Test matches, where I always find a team to support, be it Eng, SA, SL, Pakistan, or non-Aussies in general.

I do remain suspicious because I find the attitude of the BCCI towards the ICL rather dishonourable, and am severely peeved that they have robbed the world game of such magnificent players as Moh'd Yousuf.

Posted by waterbuffalo on (May 17, 2009, 19:02 GMT)

If there is a Pakistani IPL team then I will support it, even though my name is Feroz and my favourite batsman in the world (together with Mohd. Yousuf) is Virender Sehwag.

Posted by TellaNovella on (May 16, 2009, 13:00 GMT)

For those of us who reside outside India, perhaps we would be better served were we to support good cricket as opposed to forcing ourselves to ally with a particular team (or teams). Either way I believe it will be years before IPL franchises develop the kind of loyalties we see in the football leagues around the world.

On another note, you could try hooking your computer up to your TV with an S-video cable and then inviting people over. Works for me.

Posted by HMMM on (May 16, 2009, 10:24 GMT)

@VivaVizag , it's thought

Posted by VivaVizag on (May 14, 2009, 17:14 GMT)

Samir, I am one of those who derided IPL concept vis-a-vis national teams in your last post. However, things have changed as the tournament progressed. I have been predicting the winners well in the tournament and it drew my interest. I am transcending the geographical allegiances (I am originally from Vizag and for some reason I cannot relate to Deccan Chargers or Hyderabad)and I am going with: 1. DareDevils-they have the nice fire power in all depts and who would 've thunk Nannes is going to bench McGrath! 2. Royals-they still are the team with most underdogs, provided a thriller game of the tournament so far -super over!, and also they have the 'kool' replica jersey I can wear. 3. Mumbai Indians - after all Sachin is GOD and he embodies everything an Indian ever aspires to. 4. May be Chennai (Dhoni is street smart although the team colors burn my retinas). Finally, for the record, I am a die-hard fan of dada(my family has roots in WB), however, I dislike SRK & JB to the CORE.

Posted by JK on (May 14, 2009, 16:34 GMT)

Being a loyal RCB supporter, my only predicament is to know which other team to support when RCB is not involved. Frankly for me it is not a question of ethnic or national identity, but just if my favorite players are involved..I support RCB because I support any team that has Kumble and Dravid, the 2 stalwarts of Indian and World cricket who continue to get lesser recognition than players half their calibre.... My other favorites are Warne, Hayden, and Gilly..hence I have decided to support RR, CSK, and DC in RCBs absence...

Posted by kapokkid on (May 14, 2009, 11:58 GMT)

The IPL is nothing more than a marketing gimmick. It is more of an entertainment package than a cricket match. It is not for everybody just like a Test match isn't for everybody. I know of a lot of people who do not understand the nuances of Test cricket but enjoy the hit and giggle variety of the T20. This isn't wrong in any sense. It is their choice. T20 is not too different from the super sixes or the Max games but only happens at a bigger stage and has a ton load of cash and PR associated with it.

It's the difference between a classic and your standard novels that come out every year. Everyone has their likes and dislikes.

Posted by Kaushik Lakshman on (May 14, 2009, 10:42 GMT)

I stay alone && have watched all the matches alone && have enjoyed many of them. So watching alone is not the problem. Also i am a diehard fan of Mumbai && Bangalore && find myself furious wen they lose. But in a way i sympathise with u bcoz there r no Aussies in both the teams tht i support. Mayb it wud hve been different if there had been an aussie in either of the teams..

Posted by Vishnu on (May 14, 2009, 10:41 GMT)

The greatest plus I see from the IPL is that we (fans/commentators) can see the cricket from a purely neutral point of view. If the cricket is good we appreciate it. Too often, national allegiance prevents us from fully appreciating the opposition when they beat us.Some of us (eg my wife) support our local team, but I have no such hangups. Its a relief, because when the national team plays our emotional investment is much more. When our IPL team loses, it does'nt hurt as much. Thats my opinion.

Ultimately, the IPL's survival depends on cricket and great performances which cricket fans will appreciate (even english journalists ;). If not it will be a sideshow of businessmen, administrators and actresses producing hyperbole and nothing else.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Samir Chopra
Samir Chopra lives in Brooklyn and teaches Philosophy at the City University of New York. He runs the blogs at samirchopra.com and Eye on Cricket. His book on the changing face of modern cricket, Brave New Pitch: The Evolution of Modern Cricket has been published by HarperCollins. Before The Cordon, he blogged on The Pitch and Different Strokes on ESPNcricinfo. @EyeonthePitch

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