All about Cricket, Chargers, Cuttack
It is only a week since it has started but it is no surprise that the Indian Premier League (IPL) bug has bit me once again. I have been hooked on for over two years now and this year my interest seems to have sustained so far.
I feel that the IPL, like any other TV show, works because it is well packaged (a heady cocktail of content and form). The Content Vs Form debate is an age-old one but most people who have understood how television works have accepted that both are important and complement each other.
It is ironical that though I am primarily concerned with the form (as far as my work is concerned), I am very happy to concede that content holds a significant edge over form. Packaging can take a product a few notches higher but if the content is poor, no amount of packaging can save the day.
Coming back to the IPL, Lalit Modi deserves full marks for improvising each year or at least thinking of ways and means to package it better. He seems to be a terrific programming guy who can not just ideate but see it through the entire chain - from concept to delivery. He has been able to not just successfully implement his thoughts but also market it well. If he continues this way, the IPL could well come to be "In Praise of Lalit" (no, he hasn't paid me).
I know it is early days and it's anybody's game at this stage but it is about time to pick my favourite amongst all the teams this year. IPL 3 is different for me from the last two. While I had no favourites in the last two years and I was happy to support any team which played well, this time I have a big reason to. IPL 3 saw the games being shunted out of Hyderabad for security reasons and Deccan Chargers got a new home in Cuttack. Those who caught the Chargers playing Kings XI at Cuttack may have seen or heard Gayatri Reddy (from the family owning the Deccan Chargers) sounding upset in the post-match interview that the games could not be held in Hyderabad. Well, all I can say is, she needn't be. Cuttack, I am convinced, will play a perfect host to the Chargers and treat them as its own. It has already proved lucky, giving the Chargers their first home win.
I don't say this just because I was born in Cuttack and spent the first 20 years of my life in the city. I lived 5 minutes away from Barabati Stadium, on the banks of the beautiful Mahanadi river. Each day I crossed the stadium - exactly half way between home and school. I would again pass by the stadium after school for evening sports. Some of my closest friends lived on the periphery of the stadium and I remember spending a large part of my childhood in and around the stadium.
I watched every international cricket match in that period without having to pay for it (the huge advantage of living in a small town). Though I left Cuttack in 1994, I went back 11 years later to get married, again in the Barabati Stadium (sheer co-incidence, nothing more to it). No, we didn't take vows on the pitch nor did we litter the lawns. The function was held within the premises of the stadium complex, in a banquet hall called Barabati Palace. To cut the long story short, the place not only has a very special significance in my life but I know it better than most people and have a very strong gut about it.
Cuttack is not my only reason to root for the Chargers. Adam Gilchrist is another. Though most Australian cricketers are snooty, arrogant and condescending, there's something about Gilly which is endearing. It is quite amazing to see his fitness, dedication and hard work at his age. He not only leads from the front, he is tough to compete with even for someone half his age. Wicket-keeping at his age can take a huge toll on one's body but he shows no signs of it when he's on the field. When he comes in to bat, there are no visible signs of tiredness or fatigue. He is charged up right from the first ball and is ready to dismiss the ball into the stands. He is always involved in the game whether it is behind the wickets or in front of it.
My third reason lies in the way the Reddys have taken up their responsibility. It was a great feeling to see Venkata Ram Reddy sit in the dug-out with the team in every match right from the first year of the IPL. When the Chargers ended up at the bottom of the pool, the Reddys didn't give up on them. Even the King of Good Times, Vijay Mallya lost his cool and was caught on camera then visibly upset when his team didn't perform as expected in year one. The bonding of a team is tested in times of sheer despair and it is here I felt that the Chargers scored. The team paid back in no small measure by winning the IPL in year two. This can only happen in a happy unit and the captain, coach and management have a huge role to play here.
It has been over a decade since my parents have moved out of Cuttack to Bhubaneswar and I don't get to go back there as much as I did earlier. The quickest way to sum up my association with the city is to borrow a line from the hit 1977 Eagles (I am sure the Eagles won't mind as long as I credit them) number Hotel California: You can check out any time you like (from Cuttack), but you can never leave (the city).
Hope the city proves me right by rooting for the Chargers and making them feel at home. If not, I am ready to be there each time the Chargers play and this time I am happy to pay (in solidarity for the Chargers).
More about Rajen GarabaduRajen Garabadu is Chief Executive Producer - IBN18 Network.
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