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Cricket fever now replaces Corona fever

Cricket

Move over Big Fat Indian Weddings (our favourite all-time event pre-Corona)…we have the Dream 11 IPL 2020 Cricket League.

After a year hit by event postponements and cancellations, a fresh season of the Indian Premier League is ready to hit the ground running on 19 September. All is set as the eight teams of IPL 2020 with their auctioned players are preparing to play their 62 matches in Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi.

Cricket lovers are agog about the first match of IPL 2020 to be played between defending champions Mumbai Indians (MI) and Chennai Super Kings (CSK) on 19 September at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium in UAE.

Dubai will play host to 24 matches in the tournament, Abu Dhabi gets to host to 20 matches and Sharjah will host 12 matches in the series.

The Cricket Extravagance is all set to create a Black Swan moment for everyone’s life in India. Whether you are a cricket fan or not it’s going to change the mood and tempo and a vast majority of Indians will have an entirely different neural pathway being forged.

In place of the many COVID-related worries that have paralysed body, mind and spirit for the last 5 months, there will be a world of Aahs and Oohs following dropped catches and big sixes and run outs! For a short period normalcy for cricket-crazy Indians is likely to be restored.

Cricket, IPL 2020, MI and CSK, which apps to watch the match, TV timings, KKRs new American player, Dream 11 match predictions, Dhoni and Kohli, Fixture, Schedule, Teams, Venues, Points Table will be the new keywords of social media as the spotlight stays fixed on all things cricket. Already a meme-fest is on and fans have set social media blogs buzzing with memes and GIFs!

Conversations for this one and half months are likely to be as furiously argumentative and focused on the vagaries of cricket, as were politics and the onus of COVID handling. Day, hours and minutes will be spent glued to cell phones and TV sets as the matches proceed in faraway Dubai.

Heated discussion will no longer revolve on Rhea and Sushant and Jaya Bachchan and Kangana Ranaut….all anyone will share will be MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Jaspreet Bumrah, Q de Kock, Rohit Sharma et all. Online battles between opposing team supporters will heat up between fans rooting for their team.

With Corona ensuring everyone stays at home, online cricket betting is likely to be big. As it is, Dream11, the fantasy gaming platform, raised USD 225 million in a fresh round of funding, after it bagged the IPL sponsorship, just days before the IPL event kicks off. It didn’t pay USD 33.5 million in title sponsorship for IPL 2020 for nothing.

Does it make a difference that Dream 11 IPL 2020 is in Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi? Not really. In a digitally connected world, anyone can watch the match anywhere. This reminds us of the advantages of the new work protocols…. What a boon for the WFH brigade!

And for the cricket-crazy who wish to watch the matches live, the dangers of COVID will momentarily evaporate in thin air. If the government ‘travel bubbles’ allow it, travel will be booked and enthusiasm will replace fear, “kuch-nahi-hota-hai” attitude will prevail in the face of doomsayers and social media will go in a tizzy if the fortunate share their pictures cheering in a stadium … which also remains like much else, a moot point.

Of course, travel regulations are still not clear at the moment, but we understand that in another fortnight or two, protocols will be announced on the ifs and hows of travel and cricket stadiums seating and on the return-to-earth-and-India COVID rules…will the returning fans have to face a 14-day quarantine?

Cricket fever pitch is high nevertheless, and the news hotwires are already burning with, “There will be no opening ceremony” and “no cheerleaders” and “tournament will be played behind closed doors and in empty cricket stadiums”. With primetime slots of 7.30 pm, viewership is expected to be high and virtual cheering is likely to replace on-the-ground numbers.

So here’s to cricket…anything that takes the mind off Corona and its negative connotations has to be good!

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