As the sun sets on September 19, the world of cricket will witness a new horizon with the beginning of its biggest extravaganza.
After overcoming many challenges, the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) finally kicks off with defending champions Mumbai Indians taking on the mighty Chennai Super Kings at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium, in Abu Dhabi at 7.30 pm (IST).
For the cricket-mad nation, a non-starter of IPL would have deprived them of the opportunity to stream their favourite sport and would have surely made 2020 further miserable.
Thanks to the efforts and measures taken by the BCCI and IPL, the stage is a desert but the show is one, at least for the people back home, is going on.
However, there have been many 'ifs and buts' before this cash-rich cricket league was to take-off, with the pandemic sending all the sporting events in cold storage. But, the six-month ordeal has been set aside and many of the sporting events are back on the field, but without spectators.
This year IPL has many things which are first of its kind, from being without spectators to following the guidelines to keep away the coronavirus which is spread all over the globe and has claimed thousands of lives.
For many debutants, it would be a baptism by fire as they will have to go through the grind to make an impact. So is the case with some of the teams hoping to shed their underachiever tag in the last 12 editions.
Ravi Bishnoi and Ishan Porel (Kings XI Punjab), Virat Singh (Sunrisers Hyderabad), Yashasvi Jaiswal (Rajasthan Royals) and Devdutt Padikkal (Royal Challengers Bangalore) have a stage to prove as they are the youngsters who can carry forward the good work of their seniors who have taken the game so far for the country.
These Gen-Next players have proved their mettle at different levels including the international and domestics, and they will brush aside all that has happened in the last six months lay off. But, nevertheless, they have eagerly awaited for the season to kick off.
“It has been tough as we have been without cricket, and now that it is back I am sure I will give my best shot,” said Mumbai’s Jaiswal who has been roped into the Rajasthan Royals franchises for Rs 4 crore before he took off to UAE.
The youngest cricketer in the world to score a 'List A' double century, Jaiswal believes that being with the seniors, in the likes of Australia's Steven Smith and England’s Ben Stokes will make a big difference.
Bishnoi made his mark at the Under-19 World Cup and his 17-wicket haul in six matches is a testimony of this spinner.
The left-handed sturdy batsman is a multi-dimensional player who could be an asset for any of the IPL teams.
Ishan Porel was an architect in Bengal’s Ranji campaign last year. His 23 wickets in six matches helped Bengal make it to the final but went on to lose to Saurashtra in the final.
Although he was snapped by Kings XI Punjab at his base price of Rs 20 lakh, he has an opportunity to rub shoulders with the likes of Mohammed Shami and Sheldon Cottrell which can only do wonders for the youngster, who can’t be too far away from debuting for the senior Indian cricket team.
And the team which will in focus this season if the new-look Kings XI Punjab who will hope to shed the perennial underachiever tag. It has been a good beginning for them in all the seasons, but have lost track midway through the league.