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                                                                                    F                                                                                       lost their first match to Delhi Daredevils by nine wickets with

                                                                                           ebruary 20, 2008 was always going to be a special day in
                                                                                     the cricketing world.                                                                  plenty of time to spare, the writing seem to be on the wall.

                                                                                     The  venue  was  Mumbai’s  exclusive  Hilton  Oberoi  ballroom,                        However, the scriptwriters had not reckoned with Shane Warne.
                                                                                     venue for the multi-million dollar player auction. As IPL franchise                    There may never have been a more charismatic performance as
                                                                                     owners bid for big name cricketers who would represent them                            captain of a major cricket team since Imran Khan exhorted his
                                                                                     in the weeks to come, the cricket community held its breath                            apparently down-and-out Pakistan side to fight like ‘cornered
                                                                                     and the world of cricket braced itself for a new era. Then the                         tigers’  at  the  1992  World  Cup.  Warne,  with  the  help  of  Sohail
                                                                                     sums started to pour in – US$1.5 million for Mahendra Singh                            Tanvir,  Shane  Watson  and  his  one-time  foe  turned  teammate
                                                                                     Dhoni, US$1.35 million for Andrew Symonds, and even $950,000                           Graeme  Smith,  cajoled  his  Indian  youngsters  to  a  glorious
                                                                                     for the inexperienced Ishant Sharma                                                    triumph. They went on to win 13 of their remaining 15 matches,
                                                                                                                                                                            including a gripping final against Chennai Super Kings off the
                                                                                     Fast-forward a couple of months later to Friday, April 18. The                         last ball. Warne was later to say that his side were ‘destined’ to
                                                                                     venue  this  time  –  M  Chinnaswamy  Stadium,  Bangalore.  The                        win that game. No one in his senses would argue with that.
                                                                                     opening  ceremony  was  like  nothing  cricket  had  ever  seen
                                                                                     before. The glitz. The glamour. Surely, it would not have been                         To  IPL’s  credit  though,  the  public’s  imagination  was  caught
                                                                                     out of place as a curtain raiser to the Olympic Games.                                 even  before  Warne  had  cast  his  mesmerising  spell  on  the
                                                                                                                                                                            tournament. Bollywood graced the occasion like never before,
                                                                                     But what about the game itself? Enter Brendon McCullum of                              with  Shah  Rukh  Khan,  Preity  Zinta,  Katerina  Kaif  and  Akshay
                                                                                     Kolkata  Knight  Riders.  In  true  knight  rider  fashion,  he  went                  Kumar lending their support to their chosen franchises. If there
                                                                                     berserk  to  smash  158  not  out  in  73  balls.  Even  the  Royal                    is one thing Indians love to indulge in as much as cricket, it is
                                                                                     Challengers supporters felt compelled to join in the applause.                         their love of all things Bollywood.
                                                                                     The IPL was up and running.
                                                                                                                                                                            Sure,  the  early  matches  of  the  IPL  attracted  huge  television
                                                                                     Every major sport event needs a good storyline. The inaugural                          audiences, what with the thorough pre-competition marketing
                                                                                     IPL did even better than that. It produced a plot so improbable                        blitz  across  India.  What  was  remarkable  was  the  manner  in
                                                                                     it would have been laughed at as a fantasy movie by India’s                            which viewers tuned in to watch the matches, as if it was the
                                                                                     filmgoers.  At  the  start  of  the  tournament,  Rajasthan  Royals                    national side itself playing.
                                                                                     were  everyone’s  idea  of  the  perfect  whipping  boys.  Their
                                                                                     franchise, bought by Manoj Badale’s Emerging Media, had cost                           TV ratings suggested 12.5 million viewers tuned in to watch the

                                                                                     just US$67 million. The next cheapest franchise was Kolkata at                         opening skirmishes between Bangalore Royal Challengers and
                                                                                     just over US$75 million. Compare that with Mumbai Indians,                             Kolkata Knight Riders, which translated into 8.21 TRPs. Even the
                                                                                     the costliest of the lot at US$112 million. And when the Royals                        next two matches produced TRPs of 4.97 and 5.58. Compare that

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