<b>Close-in:</b> THE WIN-WIN Game
This IPl made one thing very clear: cricket is only one part of it­
The Indian Premier League (IPL) 2017 has been a resounding success. There has been an increase in every area of its operation. The fan following has generated new entrants and the interaction with them has shown the power of the new multimedia mediums.
The stadiums have been bursting with happy and fun loving spectators enjoying every moment of the game. Cricket is only one part of it, whereas soaking in the atmosphere with painted faces, placards and boisterous behaviour has made the IPL a true entertainer.
The wonderful aspect of this year’s IPL has been the friendly, cordial and respectful behaviour between each team. There seems to be a camaraderie among all the cricketers that has never been seen before. The reason is because several of the players have played with each other for franchisees as teammates earlier. The IPL has become a happy social gathering off the field. An annual get-together of the cricket world, with commercial benefits for all participants and a platform to interact and learn from each other. There has not been a single incident of verbal or physical confrontation. This has shown that competitive cricket can be played in a harmonious way without making it into an arena for sledging and unpleasant behaviour.
Every overseas player seems to be keen to come back to play the IPL. This can be attributed to the comfortable and super hospitality of the hotels, airports, transport and the other supporting staff, all making them feel like superstars. So many have relayed to me as to how they miss the adulation and fan following that they get in India, once they go back home.
The IPL final on Sunday the May 21 has a full house at the stadium in Hyderabad and should have millions of viewers following it outside as well. Pune Supergiants, the team that I had predicted to be the one that the rest would need to beat has reached the finals. Their road to the finals has not been a predictable journey but with a fair amount of ups and downs. Their success has been because on every occasion one of their player has stood out to take the side to victory. Their major turn around came forth once MS Dhoni found his feet. The lack of form at times, makes one feel alienated. The feeling of letting the team down does somehow reflect in ones’ actions. The change that one saw in Dhoni was quite prominent after his first decisive performance. Once the two world renowned captains came together along with the brilliance of Ben Stoke, the performance of the Pune Supergiants catapulted to an escalating graph. They now have just one more hurdle to cross.

The IPL 10 has been very important for all the players. The next edition will have most of them back in the auction, except for their marquee players. The domestic players, therefore, have risen and performed remarkably well this season. The young bowlers and batsmen have been the true benefactors. The IPL is a tournament that has millions of viewers and cricket experts watching. They know this is a very important opportunity to showcase their skills and talent. The IPL to them is like a final interview. The way so many of them have handled the pressures and consistently performed has been a boon for Indian cricket. Their experiences and interactions with the International and senior cricketers and support staff has been immense. Most of the young upcoming cricketers are from smaller towns and the knowledge that they must have imbibed will filter through them over there. The benefit will finally accrue to Indian cricket.
The issue that the BCCI will need to decide soon, will be whether they should stick to the 8 team format or increase it to 10. Naturally, adding two more sides would entail an increase of 18 more matches and an addition of a fortnight of cricket. The Chennai Super Kings and the Rajasthan Royals will be making a come back and the question will be whether to retain the Pune and the Gujarat sides. If the Pune Supergiants win this years IPL, their absence in defending their title will be quite ironic.
I feel that the 10 team format, which they had earlier, should be introduced. This will give an opportunity to more of our domestic cricketers to be a part of the IPL. Furthermore, the success of players from Afghanistan brings me back to an idea that I had floated to Chirayu Amin when he headed the IPL. To popularise the IPL in the non Test playing countries, every franchisee should be allowed two players in the squad from over there. This should be additional to the international players’ quota that they have at present. Only one of them should be allowed to play in the final XI, apart from the four international stars. This will not only encourage talent from the minnows but spread the expanse of the league worldwide.
This to me, will be a win-win for everyone. More matches, longer duration of cricket, more entertainment, more domestic players and a wider spread of followers. The ball is now in BCCI’s court.

Yajurvindra Singh is a former Indian cricketer
Yajurvindra Singh