CONFESSIONS OF AN IPL CONVERT
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Is it possible for a non-cricket fan to escape the IPL fervour? With games beamed live each night on giant LED screens, and parties scheduled around matches, there's no escaping its seductive allure. Here's how a non-cricket fan became an IPL addict
Tomorrow, it will be time for the hangover. Whatever happens in today's final, I can't believe that all the drama and hoopla over the last several weeks will abruptly end and the withdrawal symptoms will start to kick in. At this point, I ought to confess, I am a reluctant convert, a non-cricket fan mainly trying to be nice to my husband by "sharing his interests". Don't get me wrong. I used to be as avid a cricket fan as the next Indian man or in this instance, woman, but as far as I'm concerned, there can be too much of a good thing. I survived the previous IPL editions perfectly well, thank you very much, without the need to eat, breathe and sleep IPL!
That was till a couple of weekends ago, when I found myself walking a sweaty two kilometres through crazy crowds (thanks to an impatient husband who decided to bail out of a traffic jam), clutching my son's wrist to the point of inflicting pain and heading for the Ferozeshah Kotla ground in Delhi. Muttering and cursing, I couldn't help but ask myself what on earth I was doing here amongst the great unwashed, being jostled around? Mother love was clearly no good reason, so what brought on this bout of temporary lunacy? An hour later, my question was partially answered: it was the electric energy and endorphin rush that comes from sitting in a crowd whose only agenda is to have a good time.
The match I attended between the Royal Challengers and the home team Delhi Daredevils, was played out in a stadium packed to the rafters, despite relatively expensive tickets and the 40 degree plus temperature, which only rose with each blistering six that came off Chris Gayle's bat. And while I claim not to be an IPL fan, it got me thinking about the subliminal forces at play beneath the otherwise obvious sporting frenzy: the bonding with complete strangers — I found myself making fleeting eye-contact with a south Indian gentleman in shared amusement over his young son's enthusiastic rooting for the Bangalore boys; the support for teams that rarely have any local players — Dilliwallahs swooning over Pietersen beggars belief. Then there is also the liberating feeling of being able to cheer and shout uninhibitedly due to the relative anonymity that comes from sitting in a crowd.
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