When I am playing a sport, I am feeding my soul. Nothing gets me going like indulging in sports. I often turn to sports when I am feeling anxious and depressed. It lifts my spirits every single time and gives me that adrenaline rush. For me, watching/playing a sport is liberating. It rids me of my worries (even if for a short while). Sport has the power to unite people in times of adversity. It has the unique ability to provide joy to people even in bad times.
The news of the cash-rich and the most competitive T20 league in the world, the Indian Premier League (IPL), shifting base to the United Arab Emirates in August owing to spiralling cases of the pandemic in India invited both ire and applause in equal measures. There were many who criticised the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the IPL governing council, and questioned the timing of the event and the need to hold it in the first place in a grim situation like this. The BCCI would have had to endure heavy financial losses had the IPL not taken place. There were regulatory hurdles too (the title sponsor which happened to be from China backed out owing to Indo-China tensions and with much delight i say, was replaced with an Indian firm).
Mumbai Indians (MI), the most decorated T20 cricket franchise in the world, were crowned champions for an unprecedented 5th time. They are the epitome of teamwork. Right from the very first match, they looked a class apart and a cut above the rest. I have been tracking their progress in the IPL for a long period of time now and it is interesting to see how they have evolved from a team with zero titles to show till 2012 to become the most formidable T20 cricket team in the world. I am yet to come across an IPL team that showcases the same drive and passion to improve and succeed as the Mumbai Indians.
Exemplary planning, thorough analysis, strong mindset followed by remarkable execution are key changes that MI have incorporated in their setup which has led to this seismic shift in rankings. Make no mistake, Mumbai Indians are an extremely professional sporting outfit and that can be seen in the manner with which they approach every single game in the world’s best T20 league. If they lose a game (which is rare) they give the impression that the world has fallen. This very attitude of treating every match as a do or die situation is what sets them apart from the rest and they do not require their captain to charge them. In fact, one of the things that I have come to admire about MI in the last 7-8 years is how determined they are and how badly their players want to win the IPL themselves, the self-motivation is awe-inspiring. Even during the off season, their management comprising of competent professionals can be found scouting for raw talent which can be nurtured under the tutelage of MI’s legendary former players. They travel across the country looking for players who have the hunger to succeed, back them and turn them into polished, skillful cricketers. The unbeatable team that they boast of today is no coincidence for sure. It is a consequence of hard work and planning that is bearing fruit.
Also, a captain is as good as his team. It is the TEAM that makes ALL the difference. Captaining a side that is self-motivated, hungry to perform, and willing to improve their standards in every match each year is a dream for any captain. Winning tournaments is a by-product of that.
IPL 2020 exceeded expectations and turned out to be a mega success. For an ardent admirer of the sport like me, it was extremely invigorating and well to a great extent, it took my sadness away. It brought much-needed happiness and cheer to a nation gripped by the pandemic and in despair. The BCCI, especially the current President, needs to be given credit for organising the event seamlessly without any hiccups. Also, the incredible management by all the IPL franchise owners is worth mentioning. Staying in a bio-secure bubble can be mentally taxing. But everything went unblemished. Kudos to everyone involved. And kudos to the human will too!