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Pandit’s debut will be watched

Updated on: 02 April,2023 09:21 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Sunil Gavaskar |

Chandrakant will be more harshly judged than overseas Indian Premier League coaches, who keep getting sacked and yet come back for another franchise almost immediately

Pandit’s debut will be watched

Head coach Chandrakant Pandit with middle-order batsman Rinku Singh during KKR’s training session last month. Pic/KKR

Sunil GavaskarHaving been involved with the Indian Premier League since its inaugural year, firstly as a Governing Council member and then with the TV broadcast team, I just keep getting blown over by not just the glitz and glamour that is so unique to the tournament, but also the quality of cricket that is displayed on the field. At the end of each edition, the feeling is that this one was the best, but the new season comes up with something that takes the breath away. That’s exactly what happened again. 

Glittering opening ceremony

The opening ceremony, which had been done away with in the last three years due to COVID, began this time with the mellifluous voice of Arijit Singh and ended with a stomping dance performance with the award-winning  ‘Naatu Naatu’ being the closing number. Even the overseas commentators who are not exposed to Indian music couldn’t stop marvelling at the voice of Arijit Singh and the dance that followed. That seemed just the appetiser as Ruturaj Gaikwad came up with a batting display that was incandescent, to say the least. The ease with which he was hitting sixes was a sight to behold. It was a pity he missed out on a well deserved century, but he had given this year’s IPL just the electrifying beginning that has been the feature every year. At the end of the innings and before the defending champions, Gujarat Titans started their chase, there was a  show where 1,500 drones lit up the sky and it was jaw-dropping to say the least. While those on the ground would have enjoyed the drone show in person, the superb camera work of the TV crew in capturing the show would have thrilled those watching on TV or on their personal devices. This aspect of the IPL is often forgotten. It is not just the cricket and the glamour, but the coverage that makes IPL the magnificent spectacle that it is. The camera persons, the sound technicians and the other technical crew are the real heroes though the millions watching it don’t see them. They are the stars of the broadcast though they are in the background, hardly if ever seen. These guys and those in what is the engine room who look after the logistics of the hundreds involved in the TV production of the tournament.

This year will see a few new playing conditions and it will be interesting to see how the one about ‘impact player’ will be used by the teams. A lot of the conversations in the teams’ strategy meetings would have been about this playing condition. It is basically making 12 players available to play though of course only 11 can be fielding. That there can still be only four overseas players in the XI is a good move, for this is the Indian Premier League though looking at the support staff of the franchises a visitor from Mars might not think so.

Outstanding coaching record  

A lot of eyes will be on Chandrakant Pandit who is coaching an IPL team for the first time. His record as a coach in domestic cricket is outstanding and yes, with the IPL also being a domestic tournament, the expectations are very high. He will of course be more harshly judged than the overseas coaches, who keep getting sacked and yet come back as coaches of another franchise almost immediately.

It was refreshing to hear the Mumbai Indians’ coach Mark Boucher pooh pooh the workload question, saying that a 20-overs-a-side game isn’t a lot of workload. Just before the IPL started in 2008, there was a lot of noise about burnout started by a players’ organisation. As soon as the players realised what the IPL was offering in terms of remuneration for maybe a dozen or so T20 games, the message must have gone out to the organisation to just drop the burnout discussion. Now, the new word is workload and for a generation that has beach bodies and a pampered mindset it’s the perfect excuse not to play for their country. In a World Cup year any match missed means preparation gets hampered as the balance of the team gets affected. Another failure to win a World Cup will have repercussions that could possibly end a few international careers and that should be a red flag for those talking burnout and missing games for India.

Professional Management Group

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