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This IPL could be low-scoring but there will be no drop in intensity, says Sanjay Manjrekar

In an interview with Moneycontrol, the former India batsman spoke at length about this year’s IPL, mindset of players, his approach towards commentary and its various intricacies.

Sanjay Manjrekar was known for his copy-book approach during his playing days. After hanging up his boots, he has been able to build a charismatic profile as a sports broadcasting professional.

Being someone who doesn’t mind expressing his thoughts, which sometimes may have inadvertently stirred up a hornet’s nest, his views have always managed to keep him in the limelight.

Edited excerpts:

Q: How do you think the COVID-19 factor and staying in a bio-bubble going to play out on the psyche of cricketers?

A: I don’t think it is going to be an issue with the players. Even when they are playing in India, they can’t venture out much because they are going to be mobbed wherever they go. They have had a break for a long time, which is unusual. When the IPL will begin, they will be very excited to be back in action. TV viewership will hit the roof because people haven’t watched cricket for a long time and players will be aware of the fans watching them closely. Players may be a little rusty to begin with but they won’t take much time to get into the groove.

Q: Will this IPL be only about Mahendra Singh Dhoni?

A: It is always about the top stars like Dhoni, Virat and Rohit. In India, the individuals galvanise the fanfare around the game. Also, the IPL is about fan loyalty and how everyone gets into specific details about stats.

A: Keeping in mind the average score in the UAE, which is 155 and the fact that 200 has never been chased in a T20 match there, it is expected to be slightly low-scoring but we may see high–scoring matches in the beginning. My feeling is that the IPL is likely to be played mostly in the third gear.

Q: Since the razzmattazz will be missing from this year’s edition, how do you think the players will react to playing in a completely different environment?

A: Yes, the players will find it a bit odd and different. As players, when we played Ranji Trophy cricket after international matches, we found it very odd. But they should know that they cannot afford to slip up on the performance parameter because they will be monitored closely and I don’t think the intensity levels will drop because of lack of crowd at the stadium.

Q: It has been over a decade since you started out as a sportscaster. Did you have any particular idea or path in mind when you took the plunge?

A: When I called it a day as a cricketer, I had no idea what I was going to do. I had a job with Air India at that time and knew that I could depend on that. But then commentary offers came and it was kind of second nature to me, being behind the mike and talking about the game. Even as a player, I always had an opinion and…

Soumalya Santikari

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