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Indian Premier League: As India battles devastating second wave of Covid-19, cricket continues to play

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These circumstances explain the unease she sometimes felt while watching the Indian Premier League (IPL), the country’s most lucrative sports competition which has continued Even as the number of coronavirus deaths increases. India on Thursday reported nearly 380,000 new infections – another world record for the highest number of cases in a single day – and 3,600 deaths.
“I just recovered from Covid 10 days ago and every next family you hear, so many people in their family, friends, they’ve lost people,” said Anand Patil, who runs a design and advertising company in Mumbai, said CNN Sport.

“We have lost some friends; we keep hearing about families who need urgent support.”

Despite the withdrawal of several top players and calls for a postponement, the IPL, which attracts the world’s top cricketers to big-ticket deals, is about to enter its fourth week of play.

“Some days I’m in the mood to watch (cricket) because it’s a respite from what’s going on. We’re all locked up at home, it’s a family’s way to bond and move on. have a good time together, especially in the lockdown when you can’t get out, ”added Anand Patil.

“But some days it doesn’t feel right. Some days it just feels right: do we really need it?”

Donation efforts

The IPL operates under strict bubbles as teams move between matches across the country; for Sunrisers Hyderabad players it even meant wear head-to-toe PPE for a domestic flight to Delhi.

This week, a number of top players, including India international Ravichandran Ashwin, withdrew from the tournament.

“My family and extended family are fighting against Covid-19 and I want to support them in these difficult times”, Ashwin wrote on Twitter. “I expect to come back and play if things are going in the right direction.”

Australian star Pat Cummins, the most expensive overseas purchase at IPL’s 2020 auction, was applauded this week when he donated $ 39,000 (AU $ 50,000) for medical supplies in India. A number of other current and former players – including Sachin Tendulkar and Brett Lee – and teams like the Rajasthan Royals and Delhi Capitals have also donated for the Covid-19 relief efforts.

Ashwin plays a stroke on day five of the third test between Australia and India earlier this year.

But questions arise as to whether game administrators could do more given the impact of Covid-19 in India.

“This is the sport we love, IPL for sure brings a lot of smiles and fun in the toughest times,” Coimbatore-based educator and avid cricket fan KK Ramachandran told CNN Sport. .

“I have no judgment on the IPL schedule, but personally I think all the sponsors, teams and organizers could have achieved much bigger brand points if they had focused their attention and energies on it. which is without a doubt one of the greatest crises mankind has ever faced. “

Anand Patil also said the game should do more to tackle the pandemic: “Everyone can come together and feel a little better, and maybe they can donate a portion of the profits for what. is needed in India now… oxygen and beds and what we really need right now. “

ICC, the governing body of international cricket, and BCCI, the governing body of cricket in India, did not respond to CNN’s requests for comment.

In an email cited by the GuardianBCCI Acting Managing Director Hemang Amin said the organization “‘understands that there are few apprehensions and concerns regarding the overall situation in India and the withdrawals of some cricketers’ “.

Addressing the players, Amin went on to say, “, the people who tuned in. If, even for a minute, you can make someone smile, then you have done well. Although you are professionals and will play to win, this time you are also playing for something much more important. .. humanity. ‘”

People wait to cremate bodies at a crematorium in New Delhi on April 23.

‘Economic system’

According to Forbes, the IPL is the sixth most important sports league in the world, behind the NFL, the Champions League and the four biggest domestic football competitions in Europe. Delaying or canceling the tournament, some say, would have a cost.

“There is a whole ecosystem that the IPL supports… providing livelihoods for a few million Indians, if not more,” Indian cricketer Boria Majumdar told CNN Sport’s Amanda Davies this week.

“We are talking about a huge economic system here. By stopping the IPL, what are you doing? You are plunging the nation into more gloom, talking about more debt and more pandemic.”

india Broadcasting Audience Research Council The number of viewers found during the opening week of last season’s IPL jumped 15%, with 269 million viewers tuned in for seven games on 21 channels.
A panel displays Mumbai Indian players.

The success of the IPL is due in large part to the crazy cricket fan base in India.

“Cricket is like a religion in India. Or maybe more,” Krishna Kumar, a brand marketing professional in Sydney, Australia, and Indian cricket enthusiast, told CNN Sport.

“It’s a common ground that brings everyone together, across regions, socioeconomic class, religion or sect. It’s India’s adhesive and antidepressant.”

Given the popularity of the sport and its star players (Indian captain Virat Kohli, for example, has nearly 200 million followers on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter), the IPL has a prominent platform at in the midst of the public health crisis in India.

“We are in our vaccination campaign and there is a strong anti-vaccine lobby like everywhere else in the world,” said Majumdar.

“Use IPL as a platform to get the right message out, vaccination, hygiene protocol, mask wear and all the rest.”

One such example is Ashwin from Delhi Capitals, who tweeted about donating plasma to support Covid-19 patients to his 10.3 million followers.

He also changed his profile name, so he now has a simple message: “Stay home, stay safe! Take your vaccine.”

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