CHENNAI: For many reasons, this has been the most unglamorous of all Indian Premier League editions. This was the occasion without post-match parties, without its flamboyant discoverer, with dressed-up cheer leaders, without the draping in the new imperial glamour. This has been the mostly about the game, possibly the most authentic of all sequels.

The launch itself was submerged in the mass euphoria the World Cup generated. Spent of energy, mass hysteria seemed heading the plateau. The audience, on which is built the neo Indian empire of cricket, for once seemed satiated with the sport. And hence to embrace the IPL, scheduled from four days after the WC 2011, was absurd. After a 43-day detour, it seemed they would choke for another 59-day trek. Suddenly, there was this brooding monotony about this format. Absorbed by the twists and turns of 50-over cricket during their heroes’ World Cup triumphs, they felt a bit short-changed by the comparatively relentless crash-bang-wallop of 20-over matches. There was a brooding monotony about the format, and its redundancy. It seemed to have stuck between inane presentation and corporate greed. Somewhere it lost its frenetic charm.

But three weeks into the tournament, it’s steadily re-gripping the eyeballs and pumping the thrill-o-meter. For a welcome relief, much of it has to do with cricketers and cricket. There has been startling individual performances. The little master, Sachin Tendulkar, notched up his maiden hundred in this format, an unknown entity in Paul Valthaty dusted reputations in frenzy, and is emerging as this edition’s rising star. Lasith Malinga’s sandshoe crushers are proving unplayable. Spectacular fielding efforts have lit up the championship.

The batsman-ship has been of the utmost quality,when players of the calibre such as Tendulkar and Jacques Kallis competing for the orange cap. Both have blended the classic with the ingenious. If David Warner, Virender Sehwag and Valthaty leapt your adrenalin count, Rohit Sharma and S Badrinath soothed your senses with languid knocks

You couldn’t say the same with the bowling, but you wouldn’t disagree with the inherently partisan nature of the format either. Still, there were intriguing battles such as the one between Rohit Sharma and Doug Bollinger, Tim Southee’s yorker barrage in the opening fixture against Kolkata Knight Riders.

There has been less of surreal scripts, and preferably so. Though last-ball thrillers are at a premium, the unpredictable nature of the contests do inspire urge the audience. This has been the most competitive start to an IPL. It isn’t about an odd upset or two, which the format readily throws up, but teams consistently defying the odds. Mumbai Indians aside, any team can beat any other on any given day, they believe. Even Mumbai were stunned by a relatively humbler proposition in fresher Kochi Tuskers Kerala. It has echoed the universal truism of transient glory.

Though it’s too early for trends to set in, the IPL has invented a narrative rhythm with familiar protagonists.

Keywords: Latest sports news, cricket, IPL, football