The clamour for the IPL to be abandoned is growing, with cricket writers around the world expressing at best incredulity and at worst revulsion a day after Sourav Ganguly, the BCCI president, announced that the tournament remained on schedule and its interim chief executive Heming Amin tried to quell players’ fears, telling them that by playing on they were doing something for “humanity”.
In an excoriating opinion piece in The Hindu, Suresh Menon posed the question: “How many of us can watch the IPL without revulsion and guilt?” while Paul Newman of the Daily Mail in the UK, expressed disbelief that players might get vaccinated before others in the Covid-ravaged country.
Menon has edited the Indian edition of Wisden Almanack and the Indian Express, which is not to be confused with the New Indian Express, which became the first media outlet to halt coverage of the tournament on moral grounds on Sunday.
In an editorial, the latter said that its stance was “a small gesture in keeping the nation’s attention focused on life and death issues”.
Menon, meanwhile, criticised the “insensitivity” of continuing “amidst the pain and suffering of the country”.
He went on to say: “Hospitals are overcrowded, crematoriums too, there is a national medical emergency, yet ‘maximums’ are being hit on the cricket fields. There is something repugnant about this. Teams have arrived in the capital [Delhi] – surely someone noticed on the drive from the airport that things aren’t normal?”
Newman, similarly, talked about the “absurdity of the richest competition in cricket carrying on in a country where millions are being denied basic medical facilities that could save their lives”.
And a politician, the former cricketer Prakash Rathod, added a dissenting voice, calling on the BCCI and the Karnataka state government to suspend cricket at the M Chinnaswamy stadium in Bangalore, which is due to stage 10 IPL matches, and turn it into a hospital.
He asked: “Is it necessary to continue IPL games when the country is witnessing the highest number of Covid cases in the entire world? The scenes of bodies being burnt in open places have caught the eye of the world.
“Has KSCA [Karnataka cricket association] forgotten that Bengaluru is number one in Covid cases in India? Is it not the time to be helpful to the people of Bengaluru?”
For now, though, the claims continue to fall on deaf ears. The latest match between Chennai Super Kings and Sunrisers Hyderabad in Delhi produced a dominant win for MS Dhoni’s side that took them back to the top of the IPL table and, tomorrow, there is a double header when Mumbai meet Rajasthan Royals in Delhi and Delhi Capitals play Kolkata Knight Riders in Ahmedabad.
Faf du Plessis, with his third successive fifty and Ruturaj Gaikwad gave CSK a platform of 129 for the first wicket in 13 overs as they made light work of Sunrisers’ 171 for three. And although Moeen Ali, fluidly but briefly, and Du Plessis went in the same Rashid Khan over to give him figures of three for 36, Suresh Raina and Ravi Jadeja got them home with nine balls to spare.
Even for reaching 171 – which assistant coach Brad Haddin had admitted was his team’s target during a mid-innings interview – Sunrisers were in debt to Kane Williamson and Kedhar Yadav, who hit 44 off their final three overs after David Warner and Manish Pandey had dawdled too long over their half-centuries.
Warner in particular had cut a visibly frustrated figure – his slow scoring rate was not for the want of trying – and although two sixes took him within sight of the milestone and then past it, he and the more fluent Pandey, who took 46 balls over his 61, went in the same over, the latter to an excellent running catch by Du Plessis at long-on.
Gaikwad and Du Plessis looked in confident mood from the off and once both had got to their fifties, the Indian took full toll on spinners Jagadeesha Suchith, who conceded 45 runs from three overs and, unusually, Rashid, before the Afghanistani had the last word by bowling him for 75 off 44 balls and picking up two more.