It's celebration time for fans as IPL returns!

They are celebrating the world’s most valuable cricket league’s return in September.

MUMBAI: The scene: a flat in a middle class society in Mumbai’s Malad suburb. It’s late evening Sunday, 1 August. Varun Gupta, a 23-year-old is working on a presentation, which his boss unsuspectingly thrust on him in the afternoon. His neighborhood has been declared a containment zone as around three individuals have been tested Covid positive.

Suddenly, a notification pops up on his computer informing this die hard IPL fan that the IPL governing council has cleared the staging of the the tournament in the UAE from 19 September to 10 November 2020.

His hitherto frowning face breaks into a smile of joy. He leaps out of his chair, and goes to his mother in the kitchen and dances around her, whooping with delight.

Varun is just one of hundreds of millions of cricket fans who have been celebrating in their own ways since the IPL’s announcement early in August. For long they have been starved of live sports courtesy the rampaging SARS COV2 virus and the lockdowns it imposed on the world.

Ever since the news that the IPL2020 is taking place, albeit in the UAE and possibly with limited or no stadium attendance, has come out, IPL fans are ecstatic. They have gone into overdrive, tweeting, posting on Instagram, Facebook and what have you, expressing their joy.

The IPL not only brings out the passion, it also helps harness creativity in cricket fans as can be seen in the tweets and posts above.

IPL devotees form different cohorts and go to the extent of going on a fast, avoiding meat, making huge sacrifices in order to propitiate the powers that be to aid and guide their teams to victory. They thrive on the emotional rollercoaster that the game provides, the adrenalin rush, when their teams get the better of the competition, and the downer when they are at the receiving end. Donning their favorite team’s colors, player’s T-shirt number, faces painted like warriors, fans watch every run being scored, every six being knocked out of the ground, every wicket falling and also the heart-stopping run chase, whilst sitting on the edge of their seats in their homes before the TV set.

For Indians, IPL cricket, its teams and players are not just a release, they are a religion, their gods, which and whom they will die for. And lovers of the T20 format – running into hundreds of millions – have been deprived of the divinity of the game for longer than they would have liked to be. The pent up demand is sure to explode into a frenzy of binge watching of each and every match when IPL goes live.

The fact that the IPL was called off in March 2020, leading to fans having a break from it and the fact that most of them are at home – and will be homebound for sometime – could mean that IPL 2020 could be the year when it touches new levels in terms of viewership and reach – the highest possible ever.

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