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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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