On the ball: What does the IPL mean to fans in the Middle East?

Lifestyle Tuesday 18/April/2017 19:44 PM
By: Times News Service
On the ball: What does the IPL mean to fans in the Middle East?

The Indian Premier League has once again painted our TV screens with a riot of colour, celebrities, and cricket. The month-long tournament has divided opinions across the Sultanate, and Times of Oman got in touch with fans, players and organisers to find out what the IPL meant to them:

Raja Sankar, resident:
The IPL has lost a lot of spark and shine amidst the increase in the showbiz factor. 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.

Javed Ashraf Saiyed, resident:
It’s become too commercial and it’s more of reality entertainment. 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.

Syed Jameel, Manager, Oman Men’s National Cricket Team:
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. Although there are some big name players such as Virat Kohli who may miss some of the season because of injury, it means there is a chance for many other young players to prove themselves this year.

Vaishali Jesrani, Captain, Oman National Women’s Cricket Team:
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. 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. 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.

Saurabh Advant, Loyalty Programme Manager, Dubai Sports City:
The IPL was created to introduce the sport to those who may not follow cricket regularly. When the IPL was held in the UAE, we hosted about seven games of the tournament, and it gave a big boost to the sport in the region. Everybody wants to see the world’s best players play together, and nowhere else in the world do you have some of the greatest cricketers of the current era play in the same team.
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.