Corona Diaries 60: What After IPL? Brace Yourself For Emptiness

What after the Indian Premier League is over? Sigh! One dreads even the thought of going there. It will be blankness again. There will be an IPL-shaped hole in the evenings and nothing beyond. Cricket will recede from our lives and excitement will go scarce again. Dinner table conversation will lose the zing with mundane matters taking over. Corona talk, rehashed many times over, will be back on the table as will be politics. It is possible television anchors would find a new suicide-that-is-not-murder incident to peddle bizarre conspiracy theories and turn one more celebrity death into public entertainment. Idle minds, after all, are a TRP goldmine.

In one of those advertisements on television, young people busy themselves with absolutely silly activities out of boredom. One keeps switching on and switching off the light while idling on bed, another tries to make a bottle sit correct on the table after throwing it up in the air, another bursts bubble wrappers and yet another stays engrossed with the polish on nails. We might end up with similar activities. Sigh again!

For cricket fans the four-hour evening slot will be hard to fill. Surely the journey over the last 50-plus days through many heartbreaks and celebrations was pure joy. It is that kind of joy – free of malice – only sport can provide. It can neither be rigged nor swayed by outsiders. We will still have cricket. The series with Australia will follow soon, but IPL is just different. The breathless entertainment and the rollercoaster of emotions it produces over 60 matches place it in a special league. More important, it spreads over the evening, when mind and body yearn for relaxation and lightness after a hard day’s work. A couple of days on, after the final ball is bowled, the tedium of life would be much heavier.

The mega event had a balming effect on minds fatigued from words, numbers and sights around COVID-19. After enduring their torture for months, a respite was what required most. IPL was the escape, and what a wonderful escape it was! For a change, it made us suspend the pandemic from collective consciousness. The sense of gloom and doom lifted as it made us look at tables with renewed interest. This time the tables told us about the movement of teams on a daily basis, not the depressing statistics involving the number of new positive cases and deaths across the country. While the matches held us in thrall, COVID-19 positive cases shot past eight million and deaths past 1.25 lakh. We barely noticed. IPL deserves a big thanks for that.

Hope the next edition of the tournament is held on time. We can take the heartbreak of favourite teams losing, not a virus on a killing spree. If everything goes fine, it should be a matter of months.


‘Definitely not’. These words mean the world for diehard MS Dhoni fans. Captain Cool has been rather unpredictable and abrupt about his career decisions, choosing to drop surprises on followers. After his indifferent performance in the IPL this year, anxious fans feared he might say goodbye to cricket. He has ended all speculation with ‘definitely not’ in a post-match interview. Knowing him, he would prefer to go on a high.

That said, something was amiss in MS this season. He appeared to have spent more time in honing his acting chops than removing the rust on his cricketing skills in the last few months. He was more visible endorsing mutual fund to paint to noodles to scooty to whatnot than at the batting crease. He was not closing matches in his usual commanding fashion, with or without sixes. We don’t mind him doing ads though, but we would love more if he signed off with a trophy in hands.


Everyone is into dream teams these days. It’s a mix-and-match job where you pick the finest of talent from each IPL team and put them in one basket. What’s the big deal? One might ask. You take the best performers and shortlist the eleven. Yet it’s not as easy as it appears. The best of talent may not always produce the best results in the 20-20 format. A team, as we have discussed in these columns earlier, has to be more than a collection of individuals, however gifted they might be.

With that caveat in place, what about a team like this? Openers: Chris Gyale, KL Rahul; Numbers 3 & 4: Suryakumar, Virat Kohli; Numbers 5, 6 & 7: Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard, MS Dhoni; Numbers 8,9,10 & 11: Rashid Khan, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah and Jofra Archer. Intimidating yes, but unbeatable? One can never be sure in this format. How one wished to push AB de Villiers into that combination!

Who would be the 12th man? Heck! Since it’s your team you would not mind carrying water to this lot.


“The IPL is fine, dude, but why won’t they have cheergirls?” cribs the friend. “There are huge empty stadiums, they can be posted anywhere and allowed to their stuff.” He, like many others, finds the proceedings on the field cheerless without the antics of the cheerleaders to spice them up.

“Really?” You argue, “Isn’t it enough that you have matches? Something to take your mind out of the godforsaken virus?”

“Yeah,” he grumbles. But what’s pizza without toppings? Hindi films without an item song? You guys lack imagination. That’s why you settle for less always.”

That gets your goat. You insist you know why he loves cheergirls. You tell him it’s not about cricket at all.

He grins, with an insolent so-what look pasted on the face. Matter over.

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