ICL: Indian Cricket League

IPL launched with exotic ceremony


The Indian Premier League (IPL), with its potential to transform world cricket, began on Friday with a spectacular floodlit match in Bangalore.

Acrobats and Bollywood stars took part in a lavish opening ceremony featuring fireworks and cheerleaders. The match was officially a 55,000 sell-out.

The first contest featured teams led by Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly, both former captains of India.

The Kolkata Knight Riders were batting with gold pads and gold helmets.

Two hours before the match was due to start, music was pumping out of giant speakers at the M Chinaswammy Stadium. Long queues gathered outside, though most of the stands were already full.

Fans cheered as the eight captains, all smartly dressed in suits, were introduced.

Board of Control for Cricket in India chairman Sharad Pawar said: “This is a historic day for world cricket. The world is watching what is happening in Bangalore.

“In 44 days, 123 Indian players and 73 overseas players are going to play 59 matches in eight different places.

“I am confident there is an opportunity for the world’s senior players to teach the new young players which will build a strong future team for India.”

Acting International Cricket Council president Ray Mali thanked the Bangalore organisers and said cricket “was being taken to the next level”.

IPL commissioner Lalit Modi, vice-president of the BCCI, said: “We will be treated to some of the most exciting sport this country has ever seen.

“There has never been a more talked about sports event in India and the eyes of the world are on us.”

The contests between eight teams will feature nearly all of the top names in the game. And they will be closely watched in England, the birthplace of Twenty20 cricket.

The ECB is in talks with an American billionaire to set up its own version of the IPL, but on Friday the attention was squarely on India.

The match between Dravid’s Bangalore Royal Challengers, and Ganguly’s Knight Readers set the six-week tournament in motion.

With the final in Mumbai on 1 June, fans should see some mouthwatering cricket with the likes of Sachin Tendulkar (Mumbai), Ricky Ponting (Kolkata) and Matthew Hayden (Chennai) facing the bowling of Brett Lee (Punjab), Shane Warne (Rajasthan) and Glenn McGrath (Delhi).

The stars will get around £100,000 a week during the tournament, putting them on similar pay to the world’s top footballers, albeit for a limited period.

Source:Cricket News

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