By Dilip Bobb
Two issues dominate conversation and eyeballs at this time. The IPL and the other IPL, the Indian Political League. The former has just kicked off with its attendant razzmatazz while the other is alive and kicking, thanks to various players and sponsors. The Other IPL is seeing more wickets tumble and more bouncers than the regular one which it could easily rival. Here are some prospective teams for the Other IPL.
The Cracking Cowboys: A team jointly formed between players from Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, known for their big hitting and sending opponents on a leather hunt, to use Ravi Shastri’s favourite phrase. In recent matches, they have thrashed their opponents comprehensively and are in cracking form, hence the name. The team has honed its skills in cow vigilante squads in the two states, and a combination of leg breaks and a high strike rate have made them invincible. With powerful patrons, the Cracking Cowboys in their saffron outfits are the team to beat, literally, especially in the death overs.
Chetan’s Chameleons: Author, blogger and cricket-lover Chetan Bhagat has dreams for setting up base in Ayodhya and sponsoring a team dedicated to winning the IPL, the other IPL. His open support for the ultimate Other IPL trophy (the Ram Temple) is a departure from his stated mission of ensuring world peace, but having picked his side, politically, he is clearly perfecting the “doosra”, the one that turns the other way. Chameleons, of course, are famous for changing their colours.
Gaikwad’s Gharials: The Shiv Sena MP has shown his ability to pummel anything that comes his way, especially if it’s a flighted delivery. Even video replays showing him caught out have not cramped his stroke play, which includes the use of footwear to hammer home his message that he is a high flying member of the Other IPL, complete with a free ticket to ride. In parliament, his teammates showed their animal spirits (hence the name) and aggressive approach by attacking the Third Umpire. Clearly, a team with sky high ambitions even if the methods are low.
Delhi Diehards: Led by the redoubtable Arvind Kejriwal, this Other IPL team had shown great initial promise but seems to have disappointed fans with its recent performances in the field, mostly because of the large number of hit wickets. Like the Delhi Daredevils, Kejriwal’s team in the Other IPL has a poor away record despite spending hugely on advertising and promotion. There is also the issue of the team’s slow over rate, leading to massive fines and claims for compensation by his opponents. His appeal is pending but the team, now fighting for the wooden spoon (aka the Municipal Cup), is in danger of losing its fan base and possibly its franchise.
The Lucknow Lions: The latest team to enter the Other IPL, it has shot to the top of the (television) rankings and has already developed a fearsome reputation. Feared by some and envied by others, it has hit the ground running within a month of appointing a yogi as captain, showing that if cricket is a religion, politics is not that far behind. So stunning has been its impact that opposing teams are being led like lambs to the slaughterhouse. It does, however, have a love-hate relationship with the fans. Those in love hate it.
Kapil’s Devils: No, not a team led by the original all-rounder, but the other Kapil, who laughs his way to the bank. A favourite considering his team included a former Indian test opener, he suffered a Steven Smith-type “brain fade” while at 30,000 ft, and threw the match, along with other handy objects. As a marquee player, he should have known that the devil lies in the details—leaked by the object of his ire.
The Noida Neanderthals: Another new team, specifically based in Greater Noida. As the name suggests, it is team that resembles the aggressive primates that were thought to be extinct thousands of years ago. The original primate was known to have a tiny brain and hated the dark. The modern avatar that was spotted ravenously going after its prey was no different.