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IPL3 - A Pleasant Surprise

The IPL Governing Council's Lalit Modi's decision to schedule the opening match of IPL3 in Mumbai, a home match for Hyderabad's Deccan Chargers, was potentially a bullet in foot move. Through the grace of god, or most probably a few thousand free tickets, the game was played in a stadium that was more full than empty. The question is, how long will the IPL continue to get away with such daftness?

Hyderabad, by all accounts, is still a peaceful place and far from the hotbed of tumult that 'forced' Modi and co to transfer the Chargers' home games to Mumbai. Would it not have made infinitely more sense to play the opener at the Kolkata Knight Riders' Eden Gardens, guarantee an authentic sell-out crowd and inject genuine passion back into the IPL after the concocted variety we saw in South Africa?

Is it simply an opportunity missed or merely the publicly visible symptom of another typically Modi-esque power play?

Credit must go where it is due (especially given the media barrage that most Indian cricketing crowds cop) for Mumbai (as always) played its part in providing what appeared to be great atmosphere for a great Indian innovation, as Gilly, Warnie and co have been at pains to point out recently. At least, that is how it appeared 10,000 km away on TV!

It didn't hurt that every impartial viewer's sentimental favourite, KKR, managed to pull off a seemingly improbable victory in a game that was as much about tactics, technique and mental strength as it was wham-bam-thank-you-mam. As Dileep Premachandran points out, if curators all over India could prepare tracks that provide a contest between bat and ball, IPL3 may just be able to prove that the IPL may just be a robust and bona fide entertainment vehicle full of genuine thrills and spills.

Finally, how heartening was it to see Sourav Ganguly back where he belongs, commanding the troops, showing the world how it's done and then celebrating like only he knows how? Just as it has been in previous post-retirement seasons with Warne, Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden, my heart skipped an extra beat when the realisation struck that Dada's still got it.

KKR management may have been led astray during IPL2, but surely even they have realised that the franchise's immediate commercial success depends more on how effectively they can exploit Ganguly's polarising presence, than it does on how many matches the team actually wins.

Welcome to the new world order!

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