One of the most intimidating places to play cricket is Eden Gardens. With a capacity of 100,000 it isn't easy for visiting teams to play as the home crowd often doubles up as the 12th man for the hosts. The idea behind IPL was to create city based loyalties akin to the English Premier League. And it has been successful to a great extent. In the first season, Sawai Man Singh stadium in Jaipur felt more like a cauldron to the visitors as they wilted in face of a hostile crowd and some great performances by the Rajasthan Royals. The combination was so effective that the Royals went undefeated at home in their succesfull 2008 campaign. And that's why the idea of teams holding their matches at adopted venues in 2010 is so mind boggling. Sample this, defending champions Decaan Chargers were treating D.Y.Patil stadium in Navi mumbai as their home for the opening encounter of this season. That they had no home advantage was obvious as the crowd couldn't feel a connect with them the same way that the Hyderabad crowd would have.
A similar scenario took place in Ahmedabad last night. Royals having given up Fort Mansingh as their home, due to some changed political equations, just didn 't have the sort of support that they would have liked. In fact when Sehwag took the attack to the Royals, the crowd literally switched sides and began cheering for him rather than getting behind the Royals.Would this have been the case in say EPL? One can't imagine ManUtd supports ditching thir team and start cheering for Lampard.
The idea of rooting for one's home team has actually started to materialize. The way Bangalore crowd was chanting 'RCB... RCB...' was phenomenal. The decibel levels being generated were simply surreal. So was the crowd support that one got to witness for the Mumbai Indians. Perhaps the IPL organizers, in their bid to massage some egos or to accommodate changed political realities, have missed a trick to firmly entrench the teams in the fans' hearts and ensure their loyalty towards their city teams. Let's hope IPL 4 recognizes the need of playing the home matches at one's own home and we don't have to worry about figuring out who the home team is in a fixture at Nagpur!