TVs in lounge rooms and cafes across cricket-mad India are again expected to be switched to the IPL in prime time.
But there’ll be a significant difference between the second season and the immensely popular launch in 2008: the matches they’re watching will be staged in South Africa.
Organizers of the lucrative Twenty20 cricket league shifted the event off shore because of concerns over security with India’s general elections going on at the same time.
New Delhi-based business executive Anjan Mitra’s attitude seems to be typical of fans who’ll be tuning in during the April 18-May 24 tournament.
“I consider myself part of a cricket audience that watches matches on television, I won’t necessarily go to a match even if it’s being played in my home city,” the 44-year-old Mitra said.
“I love cricket, I follow the game and watch it on TV. I saw almost 95 percent of IPL action last year. I’ll try and do it again and see as many games as possible.”
Mitra said he had mixed feelings about the IPL being played in a foreign country.
“It may not have the same excitement that we experienced when matches were played in India. South Africa is way off to truly feel connected for a domestic tournament,” he said.
There’s only one connection Parminder Andley is concerned about – and that’s his television.
He said his daily schedule over the next five weeks would be primarily dictated by the IPL match program.
“The IPL matches brought about a change in my daily schedule last summer as one tried to get back home in time for the telecast of matches,” said the 55-year-old Andley, a manager with a newspaper publishing firm who described himself as “an avid cricket watcher.”
IPL matches will start at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Indian time – as they did in 2008 – aimed at the peak time for TV viewers. The match schedule, however, may reduce the enthusiasm of local spectators in South Africa, where matches will start around noon even on weekdays.
Andley said he “somehow managed to see most of the matches last season.”
“It would’ve been more exciting if the matches were played in India, but cricket is cricket and the IPL is an exciting format,” he said.
Sunil Goel, a banker, said IPL matches would again bring about a dramatic change to his lifestyle.
“I’ll again be spending most of my evenings with the entire family watching cricket on television,” said Goel. “Dinner in the living room in front of our television set, and post-dinner discussion about the match will be the usual routine.”
India’s top cricketers, representing the eight city-based franchises, have said they will miss the excitement of playing in front of boisterous capacity crowds at Indian venues. Also, the concept of home and away games for the eight franchises has been discarded after the competition was shifted.
The 59-match competition will open Saturday in Cape Town.