Muscat: Although the 10th season of the Indian Premier League has begun with much fanfare, residents in Oman have expressed scepticism over the large-scale commercial aspect of the blockbuster Twenty20 cricket tournament.
“The IPL has lost a lot of spark and shine amidst the increase in the showbiz factor,” said Raja Sankar, an Indian expat. “When it was first introduced, conceptually the tournament was new and more entertaining, but now, after 10 years the idea is just stagnant due to several other member nations copying the IPL idea.”
“It's become too commercial and it's more of reality entertainment,” added Javed Saiyed, another Indian resident. “Holding it every two years would make sense, and the players are bound to be exhausted before the Champions Trophy which is going to be held later this year.
“But on the positive side, it’s good to see young Indian talent rub shoulders with the greats of the game and learn enormously,” he added.
However, members of Oman’s National Cricket Team were quick to praise the blockbuster competition when Times of Oman reached out to them for comment.
“The IPL has improved year after year, and it was a huge success last year, and it looks like it’s going to be a hit this time as well,” said Syed Jameel, Manager of the Oman Men’s Cricket Team. “Although there are some big name players such as Virat Kohli who may not play this time because of injury, it means there is a chance for many other young players to prove themselves this year.”
Vaishali Jesrani, Captain of Oman’s Women’s Cricket Team, also praised the tournament.
“To many, the IPL is the most exciting time of the year, and a lot of younger fans especially are excited to see the best players play under one umbrella,” she explained. “There’s been a lot of emphasis on the younger Indian players coming through the tournament.
“I wholly believe in cricket and I have seen how playing it has improved people,” said Jesrani. “You need corporate sponsorships, because at the end of the day, all of the players who are on the pitch are there to earn money. It’s a great competition to look at both ways.”
Although the entirety of the IPL will be held in India this time around, a portion of the Twenty20 tourney was held in the UAE in 2014. 20 games were held in the Emirates that year.
“The IPL was created to introduce the sport to those who may not follow cricket regularly,” said Saurabh Advant, the Loyalty Programme Manager for Dubai Sports City, which hosted seven games of the IPL at the Dubai International Stadium. “The games were held in April and although that’s not the best time of the year to watch a live game in the Middle East, all of the games were completely sold out and we had no problem getting people to the stadium, because people in the UAE were given such an amazing opportunity to watch their favourite players.”
“When I was growing up in Mumbai, I had a home pass to all of the games played in the city, and I saw more young girls and women there that I had ever seen in a one-day or Test match, and that is the main draw of the IPL,” he added. “The IPL has now become a family event, very similar to watching a movie or going out for a meal, and it’s a form of entertainment directed at everyone so that they can enjoy it.”