In recent times the last name Modi has always been on newspapers. Whether it’s one of the most dominant political individuals or whether a business tycoon turned bankrupt. Modi is a mainstay. 14 years down memory lane and another Modi came to surface. The name, “LALIT”, the deed, an ideation. Not just an ideation but a phenomenon. A concept that potentially changed world cricket. It goes by the name “INDIAN PREMIER LEAGUE”. And mark my words this was just going to be the onset of one hell of a ride.
Modi had the idea of something like an IPL from back in early 2000s. He, coming in from an entrepreneurial family had an exposure to the outside world. He had seen the amount of money involved in international leagues like the NBA, EPL, CHAMPIONS LEAGUE, etc. Keeping it crisp, he knew what he wanted. A league similar to those as mentioned above in India. With the sport that is not just a sport but a religion; “CRICKET”. Each and every move of Modi was calculative. However, there were two lapses. Cricket back then was a lengthy sport. A game lasted for 7–8 hours and didn’t have the ability to keep the spectators glued and to the edge of their seats. But to make money a strong audience for 3–4 hours is more than enough. Next one; he knew presenting the idea as a business tycoon would mean that it would be a lucrative deal between the government and the private sector. But considering work efficiency, he wanted this to be a full-fledged government supported idea. So, this mastermind realizes that to have any say he needs to hold a position in the board of cricket itself.
. So, in 2004 Modi with Vasundhra Raje to his aid gets the position of President in the Rajasthan Cricket Board. And considering his amazing instinct he deserved it. 2005, Lalit became the VP at BCCI. Also, by 2005 the world was speaking about a new format of cricket. A 240-ball extravaganza. T-20 cricket propelled his belief. And as you say “Where there is a will there is a way.” His first problem was solved. Then came the year 2007, a huge year for Indian cricket. And guess what? IPL even before its genesis was going to get free marketing. A marketing of a new level all together. A young Indian team under the leadership of a flamboyant boy from Ranchi wins the Inaugural Edition of the T-20 World Cup. India is in love with this format.
Now comes the fag end of 2007 and the idea is presented. Considering the aura around the new format it was obvious to get an instant approval. So, the teams are in… Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Delhi, Punjab, etc. The form was simple. Marquee players were assigned. Sachin from Mumbai plays for Mumbai Indians, Sehwag; the Delhi boy is in for Delhi Daredevils and Dada is the poster boy for Kolkata. Business institutes, Bollywood, music everything is involved. The Malyas, the Ambanis, the Khans, the Shettys and even the Wadias everyone is involved. And guess what the league was getting. FREE FREE FREE MARKETING. Hoardings after hoardings, ads after ads and the stage is set.
An auction is organized for all the players. And here is where the tables turn. This is the part where talent was done justice to. A young Ishant Sharma was much in demand as compared to an experienced Misbah. Rohit, Kohli, Swapnil Asnodkar, Manpreet Gony all were getting their due credit in terms of high pay cheques. Who expected that a Ranchi boy was going to be THALA in Chennai? And VK was representing Bangalore. Who knew an ABD was going to quote “INDIA IS HOME TO ME”? So now comes the practical application. The first game Royal Challengers from Bangalore up against Knights from Kolkata. And a Kiwi gives us a spectacle. Bazz McCullum is in the mood. He tonks the bowlers and smokes 158 in the first game itself. The ball in that game flied to every part of the ground…. I still remember eating bread pizzas at my friend’s house while watching him rip apart the RCB line up. You can see Lalit in the stands in that game alongside SRK and the Ambanis and he might be just thinking to himself “What a genius I am?”
But why am a showering appreciation on this Guajarati businessman? And why was this such an amazing idea? So, tell me what did the IPL gave us? A world class Jasprit Bumrah, a superstar in the form of Hardik, a wizard in Yuzi. The list doesn’t end here though. It gave a Dirk Nannes and Shaun Marsh to Australia, Jos Butler and Archer to the English, McClenaghan to the Kiwis, Ngidi, Nortje and Rabada to the South Africans. Not to forget the Caribbean supply in the form of Polly, Russel, Hetmeyer, etc. IPL is producing gems not only for India but for world cricket. It is giving job opportunities to over a million people. It provides work for logistic, hoteliers, music and broadcasting fields. Most importantly it provides a “PLATFORM TO GO BOOM”. Players from remote areas get to showcase talent on the big stage. And if not anything, they share the pavilions with world class individuals. A Natarajan, a Rinku Singh, a Kulwant Khejroliya or for the matter Mayank Markande would never be explored if not for the IPL. Lastly, I would say that whatever later happened in Modi’s career doesn’t overwrite the fact that he gave us a true gem. And as followers of the Gentlemens’ game, it is our duty to thank this MASTERMIND.