Ajit JohnThe bowler bowls a slower one, the batsman moves into position and swings his bat and makes contact with the ball. It sails like a free bird into the stands. Cue for the crowds to go crazy in the stands and elsewhere. That’s in a normal world. This is not that world anymore. COVID has ensured that. As the IPL commences today in Dubai in front of empty stands in Dubai, fans will watch it from the safety of their homes. Most will watch it with close friends or family and others may watch it in restaurants and bars where sops are being followed. Subash Naik an engineer said he desperately looking forward to watching the IPL. He said “It would be prudent to be conservative and not take chances and watch the game at home. He said, “I am sure once we move towards the business end of the tournaments then my friends will come over or I might go over but we will be very careful”. Another passionate Mumbai Indians fan, Avnit Pednekar a businessman said the tournament would certainly change the mood for everyone. He said “It has been just COVID, COVID, COVID and its fear. It is a really good step to play cricket by the concerned authorities.” Jerry Coutinho the man behind one of the biggest sports bars in the state said he was presently refurbishing the place and would be re-opening in a week’s time. He said “Calangute has been packed with people coming from Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru and Gujarat and cricket is the passion of the country. I expect a good response but yes we will be following all the sops to ensure it will be a safe experience”. Mandar Nadkarni, the owner of another restaurant and batr said this year would be very different from the last when the IPL elicited a fantastic response from cricket fans in Panjim. He said “This year the tournament is like a godsend because it has been so frustrating so far. We are following the sops strictly and our capacity has been reduced by fifty percent. Till now we have around eight to ten reservations and we expect more before the match commences on Saturday. The younger generation will come but they will have to follow all the rules. Thank god the cricket has commenced, it will bring some degree of normalcy to a very strange world”.Vincent Ramos, Area Director, IHCL Goa and General Manager Taj Hotel & Convention Centre said they did not plan to anything special because of the tournament but since they were enjoying high occupancy, he was sure the guests would stay in the room and watch the games. The enthusiasm for the tournament, however, is strong with Gaurav Tahmankar an IT executive said this year the tournament would be epic. He said “I know there won't be any fan involvement, but the enthusiasm is sky high already as this is the most awaited T20 league in the world.”. With such enthusiasm the matches will be followed with much fervour but sports clubs and bars will hope this will translate to some business for them.