When the football World Cup started, I had this view that cricket will take a back seat now. Also that there was hardly any cricket India was playing during this period, only reinforced my belief.
Yes football fever gripped everyone, but no matter what, cricket can never be eclipsed in this cricket-crazy country. I perhaps forgot that cricket in India goes beyond the playing ground.
While there was hardly any action on the 22-yard pitch, there was plenty happening off it. On July 3rd, the Special General Meeting was called by the BCCI to discuss the fate of suspended IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi. The Board reconstituted the disciplinary committee that has to probe the Modi case and also said that legal action would be taken against him.
Had it been an ordinary day, it would have become the lead of all newspapers and news channels. It, of course, was an important development. But all of a sudden nobody cared about Lalit Modi, the BCCI and their never-ending battle. And if I may take the liberty of going a little overboard, not many cared in India how Germany thrashed Argentina 4-0 to seal their ouster. As the day progressed, the focus shifted.
Reports of Indian cricket captain MS Dhoni's engagement broke out. Nobody had a hint of it. It was the biggest of all the 'off-the-field' events. Speculations were all over. Media got a bigger shock when it came out that he was tying the knot the next day.
It was bizarre that the entire Indian media became more interested in an event they weren't asked to be a part of and had very little to do with the sport itself, as compared to the FIFA World Cup, one of the world's biggest sporting events, of which they had the coverage rights.
It was quite funny to see how news channels followed Dhoni and his newly wed wife from city to city and reported with a kind of seriousness that if you didn't read those glaring flashes, you might well have confused it with a report on stampede or a bomb alert on an airport.
Absence of most of the key members of the team at his wedding provided TV channels, newspapers and news sites enough to fill themselves with the reports of rift and factions in the team. Of course all these reports died after the team left for Sri Lanka.
And now Dhoni's Rs 210-crore endorsement deal has left everyone awestruck. According to a report, he not only left behind Sachin Tendulkar, but also equalled ace golfer Tiger Woods in terms of market value.
So basically, game or no game, cricket refuses to move into the background in India. And the truth is cricket, and anything to do with cricket sells and sells like nothing less than a star-studded big-budget movie. Whether there is any substance to it or not, remains a question that is rarely answered after everyone have had their share of profit.