I asked them what they were playing and they said, “IPL auction”.
Basically the whole gig worked something like this. You started off with virtual money of Rs 60 crores each. (Yes, even while playing, the sums have to be that high! If the humble Monopoly with which I used to deal in the hundreds in my childhood is now dealt in the millions, I guess this is only inevitable.)
Each team had to buy out a proper squad of a minimum of 14 players with a fixed number of batsman, bowlers and all-rounders. The auction was done in proper style with one guy sitting in the centre and calling out the names and a bidding war soon ensuing.
Soon the screaming reached unprecedented levels and I couldn’t concentrate. I went to close the door where they were playing and saw all of them standing there screaming and waving their notepads up in the air much like Wall Street brokers.
If you saw the scene, you would actually think that millions of dollars were at stake, so earnest and passionate were the dudes! A closed door made no difference and the high noise levels continued for hours.
In between there would be a scream of success of someone who had got their prized player. I was the consultant. Whenever there was a doubt over the abilities of a player, I would be surrounded by a few earnest faces asking me about the player.
Is he worth 5 crores? Can he bat in the slog overs? How are his part-time bowling skills? Can he make a good captain? If I failed to answer, then they looked at me in dismay. “Don’t you write cricketing columns?”
They would keep rushing in and out and get into heated arguments.
Finally when they came out, I asked them, “So it’s all over?”
“No,” they said, “this was the first day of the auction and the second day is tomorrow.”
So they came again and repeated the whole process till they were done. The same yelling and the same queries continued into Day 2.
At the end of it all, they looked totally tired and happy with their teams and kept staring at the list of players. My son came and thrust the list in my face and asked me how the team was. How was the balance? Was it a winning combination?
My son’s friend followed suit.
For the record, my son bagged MS Dhoni for Rs 10 crore. (Chris Gayle, unsurprisingly, went for more than double of that.)
The player for whom my son got for the least amount of money was South African Marchant de Lange for a much more modest Rs 50 lakhs. He also managed to spend exactly Rs 60 crores for all his players and was pretty pleased with that feat.
I asked him whether the game had finally ended and he would now throw away the list of players.
“The game has just begun,” he informed me.
The actual game is that they have points for runs scored and wickets taken for every match played in IPL 2014.
One point for every run scored,15 points for a clean bowled, 10 points for other wickets, 10 points for a catch or a stumping and 5 points for a run out.
They also have penalties. -5 points if a batsman gets a duck.
He’ll have to keep an Excelsheet to keep tabs on all the players and collate their points.
They will watch each match and see how their players perform. Now they have a dual interest. Not only do they have their favourite teams, but they also have “their” players.
Last year the craze was of the IPL card game and we had to buy him a set whenever we went shopping. My son and his friends soon got tired off that and switched to WWE cards but they got tired of that too and hence switched to this new experiment.
Talk of a new form of watching the IPL!
The author is a Bengaluru-based journalist and blogger.
He blogs at http://sunilrajguru.com/