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Team Names in IPL

Don’t the team names in IPL strike you as a bit, umm, strange? The naming conventions behind the names are vague at best, and completely absent in general. They have been bothering me for a while, so I thought I’d take a look at them all.

Kolkata Knight Riders: Everybody’s favourite punching-bag. Forget the fact that they have managed to lose 8 out of 10 games in a format that gives the best possible odds to an underdog, but what’s with that name? What exactly is the connection between knights (or knight riders) and Kolkata? If they were going for an alliteration, that’s a failure as well (unless someone didn’t realize that the k in knight is silent). The only other well-known Knight Rider in the history has been the David Hasselhoff TV serial from the 1980s. Knowing his recent alcohol problems, he could hardly have been the inspiration behind the name. The acronym, KKR, doesn’t ring a bell either. And to come up with this sad name, they missed the most obvious name with pre-existing brand equity – Bengal Tigers. Royal Bengal Tigers, even. Heck, if it had to have Kolkata in the name, then Kolkata Tigers. It is not too late to change, I think.

Royal Challengers Bangalore: First, someone should sort out the exact name for these guys. Is it RCB, or RBC, or BRC? I understand that this team is named after a booze brand owned by the owner of the team, but was that really a good move? If the team has to be sold to another owner in future, the name would also have to be changed. The new owner could hardly be expected to carry surrogate advertising for someone else’s business. Why not just Bangalore Challengers? It would have had the added advantage of allowing us to call the team a bunch of BCs. Plenty of fun to go around, no? Of course, the idea of calling your team a bunch of challengers, royal or otherwise, doesn’t have good feng shui (don’t have a better term right now) to begin with. I mean, you do want to be the winners sometimes, don’t you? Rename it to Bangalore Heroes, perhaps (check the etymology of Bangalore for the connection). There would have been some added pain whenever the team lost, but it would have been better than being called bevdaas (drunkards).

Chennai Super Kings: Being just kings wasn’t good enough, I guess. Like the previous two, a stretched connection to getting something royal in the name. Why? And in the 21st century, is it too much to expect people to do a Google search before unveiling the name? For a sporting team, being synonymous with a brand of cigarettes doesn’t send the right message across, does it? Seriously, couldn’t these folks have had the decency to at least come up with a healthier name? Like the Chennai Chillies or something. But seriously, let me think of something. Umm.. Chennai Champions. There, that wasn’t so difficult, was it?

Kings XI Punjab: The best I can say about them is that, unlike the previous three teams, they have a more legitimate claim to having something royal in their name. But even they could have easily done better. Why the “XI” in the name? We know that the playing team has 11 chaps, but there is an unspecified bench strength too. Besides, there is no need to waste space on a number that serves no purpose whatsoever. Punjab Kings would done just as well. Punjab Maharajas would probably have been better (Maharaja was the title used by Sikh kings). And this is only if you absolutetly must highlight the royal connections. Like Kolkata, they’ve also missed out on a name with obvious brand recognition – Punjab Lions. Being lion-hearted (sherdil) is the one thing that Punjabis are known for, after all. I mean, who hasn’t heard of the term “sher-e-punjab” (not just the restaurants, but this man as well)?

Mumbai Indians: The name that confused the hell out of everyone. In fact, the only name perhaps to evoke a collective WTF from people when they first heard it. I am rather ambivalent about this name. On one hand, it is certainly WTF-esque, but OTOH, it is the only name that forces the commentators to use the full team name without cutting out the city/region. Just think about it for a moment. Every other team-name can be shortened, except this one. It just wouldn’t make sense to call the players “Indians”, even though most of them obviously are Indians. So yeah, +1 for that. And -100 for the WTF-ness of it all. Mumbai Ghatis would obviously have been offensive, and Mumbai Marathas might have led to some political problems later on. But why not capitalize on a quality that Marathas were/are famous for? Mumbai Warriors would’ve been just perfect.

Rajasthan Royals: Considering that Rajasthan was home to hundreds of small kingdoms at the time of India’s independence, and even now has a great deal of tourism that thrives on that heritage, this team probably has the most reasonable claim to such a name. Bonus marks for successful alliteration too. No major objection to this one, except my bias against royal names in general. That bias comes from the fact that being “royal” isn’t necessarily a positive thing. What images does “royal” evoke in you? Past Glory. Sense of entitlement. Debauchery. Stagnation. Not a great name, IMO, but no suggestions from me either.

Delhi Daredevils and Deccan Chargers: These two teams have got the best names, methinks. True, there is no real connection (however stretched) but they are starting with a clean slate and can afford to build long-lasting brands around these names. As of now, these are empty vessels into which fans can pour whatever identities and emotions they want to. Unlike kings, knights, and royals, these names do not highlight past glory and are not fixed ideas. In fact, both these names signify a certain amout of action and movement. No chances of stagnation here. The best part is that they didn’t fall for Delhi Sultans or Hyderabad Nawabs, which would have been easy (and lazy) picks. Go Daredevils, go Chargers!

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Categories: Random Thoughts Tags: ,
  1. May 13, 2009 at 12:09 am

    Nice thoughts and name suggestions. Very creative.. loved it.

    Bengal Tigers : very suitable and powerful. I would say Kolkata should seriously consider this name.

    Chennai Champions: Yeah.. why not?
    Mumbai Warriors: Again very powerful and suitable.
    Punjab Lions: Well.. Chennai got the lion and the yellow color in their logo. Any other suggestions?

  2. dictator1
    May 14, 2009 at 6:21 am

    Minor rant. Marathas are not the same as Marathis. We, non-marathas, but marathi folks are the residents of Mumbai/Maharashtra too.


    Let the programming resume.
    Pudhe chala. Pudhe chala.

  3. May 14, 2009 at 7:58 am

    @Saran: There are only so many suggestions one can make for free!

    @dictator: Aye. Right you are. And not all Rajasthanis are Royal. I guess what I want to say is: Rants are welcome.

  4. May 15, 2009 at 12:09 am

    Bengal Tigers/Royal Bengal Tigers is was an ICL franchise – owned by Prabhuji no less – so one dares to take that name, even if obvious.

    Agree with the rest. Punjab/Kolkata naming are the strangest IMO.

  5. May 15, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    Arre yeh kya IPL YPL laga rakha hai, band karo yeh shor, kuch log siberia mein reh kar bhi shant nahin hote.

  6. May 15, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    @bongopondit: Didn’t know that.. of course, nobody will take panga with Prabhuji.

    @Gaurav: Why so serious? I have made a grand total of 2 posts on IPL (as opposed to 8 on Indian Elections).

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