Johannesburg, May 22: The success of the Indian Premier League in South Africa might turn the tournament into a bi-annual event very soon. According to IPL boss Lalit Modis latest brainstorm, it may take place once every year in India and once in a foreign country.
The success of the IPL in South Africa has been an eye-opener for us, said Modi. Not only for us, but also for the entire cricketing fraternity… that a domestic sporting tournament has garnered such support in a foreign country. We have had so many requests from fans from across the world to bring the tournament to them. The IPL will always be in India but we are open to the idea of having a second season every year abroad.
Modi is not exaggerating the South Africa success story given that a ticket for the final match at Wanderers on Sunday is now going for 3,000 rands (around Rs 18,000) in the black market. Thats 12 times its original price of 250 rands (around Rs 1,500). In fact, the tickets for the final at the 34,000-seat Wanderers cricket stadium were sold out in 45 minutes flat once the counters opened earlier this month.
Theres incredible excitement around the final, Mandira Bedi, who has been here on television duty, tells The Telegraph. When the tournament was shifted out of India on such short notice, who expected it to be such a big success? We were just happy that it was happening. And now, there are not enough tickets!
In fact, cricket fans are upset that they did not get a proper shot at buying the much-coveted tickets. Jyoti Parekh, a 50-year-old insurance officer here in Johannesburg, said: Most of the clubs buy tickets in bulk and later sell them surreptitiously. So even if you want to buy tickets in the black market, its not that easy. You need to know where they are up for sale. Basically fans are not always the guys who get to watch the big games.
But Modi believes it is the lovers of the game here in Protea land who have been filling up the stadiums.
South Africa has been a great host to us, he said. The public at large have come out from all corners of the country, supporting all the teams. I am aware of the craze for tickets. We have lots of guests who have arrived from all over the world for the closing weekend. We are chock-a-block!
And all this is happening in a country where, unlike India, cricket is just another sport. In recent weeks, South Africa has been hosting international-level and national-levels games in everything from biking and rugby to soccer and marathon.
World Superbike Race, Confederations Cup Football, British and Irish Lions rugby tour, Comrades Marathon (the worlds largest ultramarathon)… its all been happening here in South Africa but yet IPL has come out trumps as the big blockbuster from India with its irresistible concoction of cricket and entertainment.