The much-delayed Indian Premier League (IPL), which begun on September 19 between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings, has been a massive boost to cricket fans. After a delay of about six month, the cricketing event will be played in accordance with the ‘new normal’ amidst a strict bio-secure environment.
As the first match between Rohit Sharma’s MI and MS Dhoni’s CSK takes place in a behind-the-closed door-event at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, the Indian Premier League, which is known to be an event that is a mix of ‘cricket and entertainment’, might be dull on the latter this year. Why? Well, there are several reasons that might make IPL 2020 low on the entertainment quotient.
No opening ceremony
Unlike previous years, IPL 2020 began sans an opening ceremony. Taking precedence from last year, where the opening ceremony was not held in the wake of the Pulwama terror attack, this year saw the organisers deciding not to hold the opening ceremony due to the global coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 protocols requires all to maintain social distancing.
In the past, several celebrities like Katy Perry, Akon, Pit Bull, Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif, Shah Rukh Khan among many others have given scintillating performances at the opening ceremony of the tournament.
With no cheerleaders around this time, everytime a batsman hits a four or six, or the opposite team takes a wicket, one will have to be content with the virtual cheerleaders or virtual fan walls at the stadiums. Exciting? Well, not so much, because no one can take away the enthusiasm and the adrenaline rush of cheering for a team when at the stadium.
Also, we will definitely miss Bollywood celebrities who would cheer for their favorite teams from the stands.
IPL taking place overseas, travel restrictions and behind-the-door-event
All the above three factors will contribute in minimising the ‘entertainment quotient’ that people usually await when the IPL begins.
With the tournament taking place overseas, we will not get to see our favourite Bollywood celebrities hooting for their teams from the stands. They can’t travel overseas with the restrictions in place due to the global pandemic. Since the event is being held in a bio-bubble, behind closed doors, no audiences are allowed.
Therefore, there will be no pictures of Anushka and Virat exchanging glimpses or the presence of many Bollywood stars. The Internet will not be flooded with photos of celebrities cheering on while the cricketers put their best foot forward and put up a fabulous game for their fans. We will definitely miss the fun of watching our celebs rooting for the teams they support.
However, the only stars that one can hope to see are the owners and co-owners of the franchises like Shah Rukh Khan and Juhi Chawla, who own Kolkata Knight Riders and Preity Zinta who owns Kings XI Punjab. While we know that Preity is already in Dubai from her latest Instagram posts, it is highly doubtful if Shah Rukh Khan and Juhi Chawla will attend the tournament in person given the travel restrictions in place due to the pandemic.
Nonetheless, watching the eight teams fight it out in the IPL 2020 is a welcome sight after cricket was brought to a total halt due to the coronavirus pandemic. The audiences are all geared up to cheer the franchise for putting up the event amidst the pandemic and root for their favourite teams, even if it is virtually.