Get bowled over

IPL season five spawns online cricket games, draft Sachin, Viru or Dhoni into your league team.

In fact, he or she has a lot to look forward to. Next month, season five of the Indian Premier League (IPL) will kickoff. And if the amount of cricket played on the field isn't enough, the annual T20 tournament will also have an off-the-field version. Fans will now turn team owners in the virtual world and draft real-life players like Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni and David Hussey into their teams. And while some games let you buy actual players, others let you rename fictional players as real ones, giving you the chance to pretend that you own a Chris Gayle or a David Hussey.

Played on Facebook, this is the latest offering by gaming firm Zapak and is a social media cricket game based on the IPL pattern. It has already picked up 23,000 followers in the four weeks since its release.
And there's more. Come April 4, the group is set to launch what they call 'custom IPL within the game'. Players form teams that could be called 'Delhi Devils' or 'Indians for Mumbai'. They will then compete with the other eight teams in the league. While no real players can be bought in this version, people can rename fictional players to represent real stars.

Deepak Abbot, product head at Zapak, says, "The thing about cricket in India is that the fan following doesn't go down when the team performs badly, but it does go up when the team plays well. Also, with the IPL, there is no patriotism." There are also no cash rewards in the game. Those who play well earn more, which they can use to build cricket infrastructure like a grand stand within a ground or an actual stadium.

In this game, a player forms a league, establishing himself as league manager. He is then allowed to invite up to eight friends to join his league as team owners. Once the nine teams are finalised, the owners draft players, and the winner is decided. A player is crowned champion based on the highest points he gets. Pragnesh Goyani, founder, CricBattle, says, "The game launches in a matter of days. We are not affiliated with the official IPL. We have had more than 500 people sign up in the past five days and the number is growing by 35 per cent on a daily basis. By the time we launch, we are hoping to get around 5,000 sign-ups and around 10,000 leagues."

IPL Cricket T20 2012
Here, the players first choose their favourite IPL team and the desired number of balls. They then have to beat the opposing team's target to win.
Vishal Singh, banker, 25, says, "Though I am a Delhi guy, I like Shah Rukh Khan's Kolkata's Knight Riders. And through these games I can own my favourite team
without being ragged by my friends for being disloyal."

Reserve bench
CricketInc: Fantasy Cricket Matches is a live cricket strategy game for Twenty20, ODIs, and Tests. Play for free and use real cricket strategy to win cash prizes.

Cricardo: ibibo's multiplayer cricket card game combines the thrill of cricket and the fun of card games. Players deal fours and sixes and take wickets. Conceptualised by a group of cricket enthusiasts, this gaming platform allows you to not only select and manage your 'Dream11', but also compete and connect with the global cricket community.

Who to pick?
1 Sachin Tendulkar >>
2 Chris Gayle >> He is arguably the number one T20 specialist in the world today.
3 MS Dhoni >> Captain Cool is as popular as ever, controversies or not.
4 Virat Kohli >>
5 Shane Watson >> He is the No. 1 T20 all-rounder.
6 Virender Sehwag >>
7 David Hussey >> In one word, dependable.
8 Yusuf Pathan >> He is famous among T20 followers because of his all-round capabilities.
9 Daniel Christian >> Daniel Christian has been consistent for over a year.
10 Michael Hussey >> Mr Reliable.