The game starts
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For much of this year, the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League seemed the unluckiest of all. As recently as last May, the tournament was shrouded ( cover or envelop so as to conceal from view ) in uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In this backdrop ( lie behind or beyond; serve as a background to) , the start of this much-delayed tournament is a coup of sorts. However, the 53-day tournament would be without spectators, glamour, and celebrations that mark the annual mid-summer festival.
For players, it’s an unusual challenge they are not prepared for. They will be inside a bio-secure bubble for nearly two months. Cricketers would have to deal with ‘the lockdown-triggered rustiness and also the fear of getting infected with the virus. The hotels are equipped with amenities, but to survive without a social life and fan interaction could prove to be claustrophobic ( (of a person) having an extreme or irrational fear of confined places) .
It’s cruel irony ( the expression of one’s meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect ) that Sharjah is one of the venues. Not long ago, the Sharjah Cup was the most romanticised cricket fixture ( a sporting event arranged to take place on a particular date). Sharjah has lost its festivity ( the celebration of something in a joyful and exuberant way ) and glory, and this year the IPL too must sacrifice its extravagance.
Nonetheless, a lot is riding on this IPL, a tournament that was famously called recession ( a period of temporary economic decline during which trade and industrial activity are reduced, generally identified by a fall in GDP in two successive quarters) -free by its founder Lalit Modi.
The heavily invested sponsors and broadcaster, still nursing lockdown wounds, are hoping T20 cricket, like always, will not disappoint them. They are also punting ( bet or speculate on something ) heavily on the anticipation of fans, who have been deprived of live action during the lockdown. The IPL action will be beamed ( shine brightly ) to 100 countries.
In India alone 550 million are expected to tune in. Fingers are crossed, the stakeholders are calculating that in case they are able to dodge ( avoid (someone or something) by a sudden quick movement ) the virus, a pot of gold awaits them at the end of the difficult obstacle ( a thing that blocks one’s way or prevents or hinders progress ) course. They will hope that the action that unfolds in the middle will be top-class. But it would be an atypical IPL edition.