A.k.a. Kolkata Knight Riders
Going by the first game of IPL, Kolkata Knight Riders definitely looks like the team to watch out for and the one to beat. They have immense fire power in their batting as well as their bowling (which will only get enhanced when Shoaib Akhtar joins the squad), they are fast and agile on the field, their body language is positively aggressive, and they displayed a hell lot more enthusiasm on field than Bangalore Challengers. They simply demolished Bangalore! Vijay Mallya must not have been a very happy man.
People are calling the IPL more of a business and money-spinning gimmick than a sports event. Money-spinning activity it might be but here's why I think sports will come out tops in the IPL - each team has players from different countries. In regular international games when these players play for their countries, the opposition is their enemy. In IPL they have to come together with the same players who would have otherwise been their enemies and play for a common goal - the victory of their team - forgetting about the country their teammates come from. It's a melting pot in the true sense of the word. It was very heartening to see Ricky Ponting celebrate his catches with the same set of Indian players with whom he was involved in such a nasty controversy not so long ago. And players from different countries embrace each other whenever a wicket fell.
I also think the IPL will give young Indian players a chance to learn from the best players of the world. Each country has it's own approach to cricket. The tips shared in the dressing room and the strategies made will be an valuable learning experience for our youngsters.
I think we should all be extremely proud of the IPL. It's an absolute revolution in cricket, and one that's been brought about by India. We all know India has an immense amount of talent in every sphere but we don't have the infrastructure and the financial resources to develop and boost all that talent. So to think that India could be the pioneer of the IPL, where players from other countries were literally "bought" over by Indian individuals and business behemoths, is no mean feat. Who could have imagined there would be so much money in Indian cricket! With the IPL, the entire cricketing world will be forced to acknowledge India as a force to reckon with in cricket, and not only a country where politics, regional biases and favoritism dominate the cricketing scene.
So here are the reasons why I'm supporting the Kolkata Knight Riders:
1. It's got two of my favorite players - Sourav Ganguly and Adam Gilchrist. They are both at the twilight of their careers. One has already retired from international cricket and the other will very soon in all probability. I have always loved Ganguly as a captain and I also admire his resilience (the way he won his spot back on the team). And I think no player can play spin as well as Ganguly can. It's also an absolute pleasure to watch Gilchrist bat. Not to mention he's a man of integrity and values (remember, he walked?).
2. The spirit with which Shah Rukh Khan selected his players - he wanted to build a winning team, not the best team - reflects in the on-field attitude of the players.
3. I love their mascot Hoog Lee and his girlfriend Shoog Lee, and SRK is the only one of the owners who has shown some enthusiasm in his team - in coming up with the name, in the marketing he has done around the Knight Riders etc. The others seem to have bought over their respective teams purely from a business point of view. They have shown zero interest in their teams. Forget promoting their teams, they haven't even bothered to give their teams names that would get your attention. Cases in point...Chennai Super Kings, Deccan Chargers, and the most retarded of them all - Mumbai Indians! Ofcourse SRK has to make the proposition commercially viable, therefore the marketing around the team, but if we get electrifying, edge-of-the-seat cricket in the process, what's the harm?
I can't wait to see what the other teams have in store. Over the next month & a half, cricket is going to be king and India will be the centre of attention of the cricketing world. The next Knight Riders game will be at Eden Garden, and it will be even bigger and better than tonite!