HYDERABAD: There’s a saying that everything in excess is opposed to nature. For those who claim cricket is a religion, sadly, the truth is even Gods can be boring. If they are as bad as the Deccan Chargers, one need say no more! The fifth edition of IPL started off on a bad note with the lowest ever TRP ratings for the inaugural and there was hope that people will be hooked to it once it gets going. However, interest in IPL games in the twin cities has, if anything, gone down and quite interestingly, football seems to be edging it out.
Many sports cafes and bars had introduced various offers for this season’s IPL and some of them very innovative too like discounts based on customer predictions and naming food items and beverages after IPL. But with people literally pleading that they be spared, they have been quick to re-strategize. Satyanarayana of Rush Sports Cafe and Bar, Madhapur, admits the drastic fall in IPL viewership. “We have two screens, one for IPL and one for football. But the people have started demanding football on both the screens when it clashes with IPL timings,” he reveals.
Arun Paul, manager of the Extreme Sports Bar, Banjara Hills, shares much the same experience. “The demand for the English Premier League is quite huge. We have one big projector and have started playing football on it due to public demand.” he explains.
The recent football matches like the El Clasico between Barcelona and Real Madrid and the FA Cup final between Chelsea and Liverpool had the fans on the edge of their seats. Now, with the title race in the English Premier League coming down to the wire on the last day where either Manchester United or Manchester City could take the title and the relegation battle more serious than ever, sport enthusiasts will be glued to football channels in contrast to the IPL matches where the fate of Deccan Chargers has already been sealed. Its last two matches in Hyderabad this season against Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bangalore are, it can safely be said, not going to attract many Hyderabadis.
Ticketgenie, official portal for ticket sales for Deccan Chargers’ matches, has reported a ‘less-than-expected’ ticket sale. The Deccan Chargers’ first home game against Kings XI Punjab had attracted just 25,000 spectators to the 32,000-capacity stadium. The online tickets for that match had no takers.
Only 2000 of the 5000 available were sold. The trend continued for the second match against Delhi Daredevils with around 29000 spectators taking the time to go to the stadium, thanks largely to Sehwag, and 2,400 tickets being sold online.
For the upcoming match against Rajasthan Royals, only the corporate lounge and one part of the ground floor have been sold out. Santosh Kumar, manager of operations at Ticketgenie, is cautiously optimistic. “We hope the ticket sales pick up as we expect more blitzkrieg from the home players as there is nothing to play for!,” he says.
Youngsters, who generally line up outside the stadium for tickets, have stayed away from this edition of the Indian Premier League. Anirudh Pillai, a cricket enthusiast, says he is done with cricket. “The players are all the same, but in different coloured outfits as IPL recognizes sixes and fours than a player’s true attributes. It is sad that many cricketers are putting IPL ahead of their country.” Siddarth Bhatia, a law student from the city, adds, “I have no reason to watch IPL anymore. Deccan are on a prolonged losing streak and honestly, I don’t even care.”
This is indeed shocking for Hyderabad, considered to be a fan-bank of Indian cricket. But then, what did you expect?