The stage is set for The Great Cricket Show. Last year when the Indian Premier League saw the light of the day and glitter of the night, it was received with mixed reactions. A perfectly marketed product with a dash of glamour, glitz and a game that rules Indian hearts. But can the sequel of the blockbuster repeat its success? The apprehensions are there because everything was not hunky-dory in the first season.
While TRP ratings and market analyses tell a different story, the IPL left many fans in a fix. Whom do they support? If somewhere it was a city based loyalty, then some supported their favourite cricketer and the team he was playing for. And some backed a team because of its good run in the tournament.
But, there was still a segment of people who didn't know whom to support. They belonged to some city, liked a cricketer playing in other franchise while some third team was having a dream run. So what do they do with so many unknown faces take on the established stars?
Seriously they didn't do anything and kept wondering who was playing and which team did he belong to. They definitely did not support anyone and could not sustain their interest in the tournament for long. They simply gave up only to return in large numbers for the semi-finals and the final.
"For someone like me it's tough to decide whom to support as there's no team from my side of the country. So why should IPL interest me? Yet people do support some teams which have their favourite players because there's no alternative," Rajeev, a Himachal Pradesh based cricket follower said.
Many cricket fans feel that IPL can be a bigger success story in its second season if some changes are made in its format and treatment.
Hemant, a die-hard cricket buff says: "One rule I want to see relaxed is the cap on foreign players per team. The current number is 4, and it could be raised to 5 or 6."
Smita Kumar, an MNC executive, too wants to see more overseas players in the playing XI. Some followers want a shorter event instead of a month long inescapable madness. A short and crisp event will interest the viewers more.
But can these changes really make IPL more interesting? Sujay from Delhi sounds hopeful.
"The expectations are high, in fact higher. And this time the favourites have changed. People may believe that recession will make IPL sans glamour and so there will be less interest this time, but if you analyse the last season, it was cricket that stole the show and I don't see any reason why it will not be a mass hit again," he said.
With General Elections due around the same time, IPL may not be people's first preference. Though IPL Chairman Lalit Modi is contemplating rescheduling the event, it remains to be seen if it will really work.
And with recession on song, it would also be interesting to see how many people can IPL actually draw to the stadiums. That might just be the right indicator of the success of the T20 tournament!