The long cricket break between World Cup and IPL is almost over

By tomorrow evening, the horrid, wretched cricket-lessness of it all will have lasted almost 141 hours. Fortunately, here comes the Indian Premier League.

David Hussey of the Kolkata Knight Riders, left, is stumped by MS Dhoni of Chennai Super Kings, centre, last year. Matthew Lewis / IPL via Getty Images
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Life had begun to grow insufferable this week.

MS Dhoni's six had soared into the sky to conclude the Cricket World Cup at around a quarter to 11pm last Saturday, but then, nothing.

On Sunday, there had been no cricket. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, no cricket. Today there will be no cricket.

By tomorrow evening, the horrid, wretched cricket-lessness of it all will have lasted almost 141 interminable hours.

Fortunately, the audacity of hope lies just ahead in this dreadful drought. Here comes the Indian Premier League (IPL), and really now, here comes one of the unique experiments in human history. The IPL executives ought to wear lab coats, preferably without pockets, of course.

The league slogan should be, IPL: How Much Cricket Can Human Beings Tolerate? We Intend To Find Out.

When a wise man first told me back in February in Dubai that the IPL would begin six days after the World Cup ended, I chortled as if he kidded. He did not. After the World Cup that lasted longer than many a Hollywood marriage, here come 51 days, 74 matches and 10 teams, including the new-fangled Pune Warriors and Kochi Tuskers Kerala.

Chennai Super Kings open tomorrow evening against Kolkata, and given that I have become MS Dhoni's newest unabashed fanboy, I would just like to say the following: Go Chennai Super Kings.

I think you wear yellow.

"This team is quite good," Dhoni said yesterday at a press conference in Chennai, and I would just like to restate that any man who could go from saving one billion moods to talking knowledgeably about the Chennai Super Kings literally within hours must be the coolest man on Earth. He warned of fatigue from cricket over-scheduling, but I know Superman does not do fatigue, so he must have referred to other players.

Luckily, in the terrible, unforgivable dearth of cricket matches since last Saturday night, cricket talk has soothed the soul in one of the world's most fascinating countries:

1. A television headline announced that Yuvraj Singh's mother said that her son proved wrong his critics during the World Cup. This revelation proved so much better than past cases in football in both Brazil and Honduras, just to name two, during which in discussions of line-ups, managers' mothers actually joined the critics.

2. According to the Times of India, a state legislative council decided to reconsider relaxing space regulations for the gym Sachin Tendulkar wants to place in his new digs in Bandra.

I think we all know the proper morality here the world over: if a leading athlete's national team had a World Cup similar to the flop of 2007, then that athlete should have to abide by floor-space regulations for his gym. However, if a leading athlete's national team wins the World Cup as in 2011, his gym should be as spacious as he sees fit even if it requires tearing down neighbouring buildings.

3. Some people out there still lampoon individual players even in the happiest times, but never has any player responded to criticism with a more emphatic harrumph than Harbhajan Singh, who told Indian reporters of his bowling in the tournament: "It is to be praised and not ridiculed."

4. Repeatedly we saw references to the joy of "a billion people," and I began to wonder if the other 200 million felt slighted.

Take a walk across South Mumbai, and the city does seem back to sort-of normal. You might hear enough people try to sell you things that you consider becoming a socialist. You might pass the now-historic Wankhede Stadium and learn that the Mumbai Indians trained inside beneath the lights yesterday, aiming to go one notch further than their runner-up finish of last spring.

The Wankhede area seems back to normal. The sun sets beautifully just half a block over on Marine Drive. Delivery lorries come and go at the stadium. World Cup signs remain pasted on the gates, instructing about proper credentials. Two Indian passers-by ask if Sachin is in. A security guard tells you basically to get lost and notes the Indians' first home match will occur on April 15.

A World Cup closes down, and a league revs right up, hungry sponsors at the ready. Really? Really amazing.

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