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CSK, MI and Dhoni

The slugfest between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings has shades of the Ashes battle and fans of the two clubs love to hate each other.

Here’s a sample exchange.
• Hey, we are champs.
• 1-0
• Come to Chennai. We will see.
• 2-0
• Qualifierla vaanga
• 3-0
• Finalla vechu pathudomla.
• 4-0
• Next year vaangapa.
• Haan, Apna time aayega!!
The happenings in the 12th edition of the IPL aptly summarise the Mumbai-Chennai fistcuff. The Nita Ambani owned team kept its cool to win by 1-run in a thrilling finish.

While I have liked IPL as a rabid cricket fan, I have believed this could lead to a club vs. country debate. Look at the highly respected M S Dhoni. Known for his inscrutable calm in test matches, he has often been ruffled in IPL, the worst of which was when he invaded the pitch to have a word with the umpire. Because he is India’s star, he was let go with the equivalent of a traffic offence, while anyone else in his place would have been banned for a few matches.

Multi-dollar billionaire Nita Ambani was seen praying for Mumbai’s win reminiscent of how her mother had once done. And there were several CSK fans, who hated her for it. Club cricket, with its plethora of riches, does strange things to people. It was, after all, the IPL which saw the unbelievable happen: the celebration in India of the fall of Sachin Tendulkar’s wicket! Captain Kohli, who is otherwise widely loved for his aggressiveness, is hated by CSK.

The other Modi’s work

In the last 12 years, valuation of these clubs, especially MI and CSK, have hit the roof. At some point, these could be listed in the equity market and traded. That would mark the real arrival of the IPL as an idea. All credit for this should go to a fugitive Indian businessman, known once as the other Modi. Lalit Modi had, on the announcement of ICL by the Z group, quickly fanned out IPL. More importantly, in 2009 when the general elections were being held and the Indian government said it would be impossible to provide security for the games, he took the circus to South Africa, in a remarkable show of chutzpah.

In all this, there is the underlying concern as to how matches invariably end in the 40th over and at times in the 240th ball. While it is suitable for the adrenalin, often they raise uncomfortable questions, in the backdrop of match fixing that first rocked Indian cricket and later the IPL. It is imperative in India’s interests that the Justice Mudgal cover, which apparently has the names of 12 rogue cricketers and which is available with the Supreme Court of India, is opened.

The caravan now moves to England for the 50-over world cup, the original and authentic world championship. Playing in England is an entirely different ballgame compared to playing in the sub-continent. To win there will be the true test for Team India. Our boys may enjoy rock like status across the world, but in the end, what counts is do they hold the cup.

For all intent and purpose, this is going to be M S Dhoni’s swan song. The gentleman-cricketer has come a long way from being a ticket checker in the southeastern railway to being India’s top athlete in terms of earnings. He deserves to walk into the sunset with another world cup. And what could be better than to pick it in the Mecca of world cricket?

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