After crossing several hurdles, the thirteenth season of IPL is finally a day away. However, this season is being played in extraordinary circumstances with the world in the throes of a life-threatening situation – coronavirus pandemic.Also Read - IPL 2022 Retention: David Warner, Shreyas Iyer, Suresh Raina to Hardik Pandya; Best Released XI Who Could Fetch Big at Mega Auction

The major sports events across the world are being organised in bio-secure bubble and so is the IPL which apart from following the strict health guidelines is also being held outside India and without fans. The glamour quotient is certainly be absent this time around and the electric atmosphere generated by the fans crowding the stadiums will be missed too. Also Read - IPL 2022: On Wake of Rahul-Rashid Possible Suspension, A look at Players Who Were Temporarily Banned From IPL

But fans aren’t complaining. They are just happy to see some action after waiting patiently for months to see their favourite stars doing what they do best – play cricket. Also Read - IPL 2022 Retention LIVE Updates: Virat Kohli, Glenn Maxwell Set to be Retained; Dilemma Over KS Bharat Continues spoke to fan club members about how they plan to support their stars this time around.

Prabhu Damodharan, Co-founder Whistle Podu Army (Chennai Super Kings Fan Club)

Initially it was disappointing. For two reasons specifically. First, it’s kind of a celebration watching CSK play in Chennai or other place. Secondly, we haven’t seen MS Dhoni in action since the world cup. We were all raring to go. First it was postponed and now it’s happening almost after five months later.

But we’re happy that we can watch the action on TV. That itself is a boon. Amidst all the pandemic, it’s a nice change of course. We as fans are connecting to each other through zoom meetings, discussing team compositions etc. We are happy watching from home with family.

Sports is always a big motivation. Imagine Deepak Chahar bowling the first ball of the IPL! It will be a strong symbol in motivating us to continue fighting this pandemic.

We do not want to take any chances. Safety first. We will be looking at places where the situation is normal. Currently plan is to gather in small groups with all social distancing norms in place and watch matches together. If things get better in the later stage of the tournament, few of us may even travel to the UAE. We have people who are working, hopefully there can be a way to watch some matches in office too and have some fun.

Manish Singh, Member Orange Army (SunRisers Hyderabad Fan Club)

Well, it’s sad that the tournament isn’t happening in India. At one point, IPL seemed like a far-fetched idea this year, but we are glad we will be able to enjoy the matches anyhow – from the comforts of our home.

Since this time it’s only possible to support SRH virtually, we will be making use of social media to connect with other fans, engage with them. There are plans to get the core members of the fan club to go live on different platforms and interacts. We are going to hold watch parties, give others a platform to express their views, opinions.
We have also planned quizzes, puzzle contests, predictions etc. There’s also have a ‘fan of the week’ segment wherein one fan will go live with the core team members and express her/his views about the matches. Whoever presents their views best will be declared as the fan of the week. The winners will be awarded with SRH merchandise.

Sai Krishna – Member of Namma Team (Royal Challengers Bangalore Fan Club)

Very happy that it’s happening. It’s good that BCCI is able to organise the event in UAE. IPL is loved by all, kind of a festival and in times like these hopefully it will be a nice distraction. Only sad factor is that there won’t be an in-stadia experience.

This time around we cannot do any offline activity. We will organise zoom meetings so that a bunch of fans can interact while watching the game together. Digital campaign will be via social media. We will interact with fan clubs of other teams too through live chats and other modes, connect to other cricket lovers. There’s limitations to what we can do online but will try our best. Of course, there were certain things we were planning to do this time around before the pandemic struck but hopefully they will materialise next time around when everything returns to normal.

…Don’t forget the Senior Fans

The enthusiasm isn’t limited to youngsters. The senior citizens are also eagerly awaiting for the season to start.

81-year-old Sharadambal Visweswaran has been following cricket closely for over three decades and is a huge CSK fan. She has been patiently waiting to see Thala Dhoni in action

“I have been following cricket for more than 30 years. My favourite player will always be Kapil Dev. Dhoni is a fine cricketer – his patience and strategy are his top qualities. When the IPL dates were announced, I was very excited and kept following the news for regular updates. ‘Thala’ Dhoni is going to Whistle Podu this time in UAE and I will sit back with my family and watch the IPL this year and cheer for CSK,” Visweswaran said.

The season will start with two fierce rivals who also happen to be the most successful team in IPL history. Between them, CSK and Mumbai Indians have won seven IPL titles.

However, battle lines will be drawn again between 66-year-old Bharat Heble, a MI fan and his son-in-law Nithin Rajasekaram who loves CSK.

“My son-in-law and I are at loggerheads whenever CSK faces MI – we also call this our bonding time. Every year we go together and watch this very clash LIVE at the stadium. With the pandemic hitting the country, I believe sports is what will bring the positivity back in our lives. This year we have decided to have a virtual match viewing session, I am looking forward the banter! My wife and I also have strong arguments since she too is a huge cricket fan. This time, my daughter too will also join us, and support MI and we will gang up on my son-in-law,” Heble said.