IPL faces popularity test

2012-04-03 19:48
IPL (File)

Chennai - Indian Premier League organisers spent big on the opening ceremony for the upcoming season, hoping fans will regard the return of the rich Twenty20 series as a welcome distraction from the struggles of the national team rather than a reminder of them.

American pop star Katy Perry and South African percussion band First Project lent an international flavour to a gala opening ceremony on Tuesday night in which Bollywood stars Amitabh Bachchan, Salman Khan, Priyanka Chopra and Kareena Kapoor performed a variety of song and dance programs.

"It gives me a great pleasure to flag off the fifth edition of the DLF Indian Premier League, an arena where quality international and domestic cricketers take part in intense contest of strategy and skill," said IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla as he announced the tournament open. "IPL is a platform where talent meets opportunity."

India were whitewashed 4-0 in consecutive away Test series in England and Australia. They also failed to qualify for the finals of a tri-series in Australia and the Asia Cup in Dhaka last month, losing their No 1 ranking in Tests and sliding down the ODI standings within a year of winning the World Cup.

Even as the media speculates of a possible overkill of the game in recent months, Rupert Murdoch-owned Star TV won the rights for all cricket in India till 2018 for a whopping $750 million bid on Monday.

The contract, which includes broadcast, internet and mobile rights, covers 96 games and comes to about $7.85 million per game. The previous rights holder, Nimbus, used to pay $6.38 million per game before its contract was terminated over a payments issue.

Two-time defending champions Chennai Super Kings play Mumbai Indians in the season-opener in Chennai on Wednesday. The fifth edition comprising nine city-based franchises will feature 76 matches and will run till May 27.

The IPL has given cricket an even higher profile, with billionaires and Bollywood beauties falling over each other to buy stakes in the teams, which feature players from around the world. Franchises clamoured for players during the 2012 player auction in February and during the preceding month-long trading window.

Last year's runners-up Royal Challengers Bangalore managed to retain West Indian Chris Gayle, who joined them as an injury replacement and emerged as Player of the Series last year, while Pune Warriors last week signed up Australia captain Michael Clarke, who will make his IPL debut during the second half of the season after Australia's tour of the Caribbean.

But the Pune team, who agreed to compete after threatening to withdraw over differences with the Board of Control for Cricket in India, will be without South Africa test captain Graeme Smith who has decided to undergo surgery on his injured left ankle.

India's Rahul Dravid, one of only six international batsmen to have scored over 10 000 runs in both Test and one-dayers and who announced his retirement from international cricket last month, will lead the Rajasthan Royals after Australia leg-spin great Shane Warne retired from the IPL.

Sachin Tendulkar, who became the first batsman to achieve the milestone of a 100 international centuries last month, has given up the captaincy and Mumbai Indians will now be led by India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, who led the team to victory in the Champions Trophy last year.

This year's Twenty20 league has gained in significance as it offers an opportunity to players to get acclimatised to the slow and low subcontinent conditions ahead of the fourth edition of the World Twenty20 to be staged in Sri Lanka in September-October.

Read more on:    ipl  |  cricket


Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
  • Blitz
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @00:00
  • SS1
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @01:00
  • SS2
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @02:00
  • SS3
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @03:00
Video Highlights
Sport Talk


Which franchise will you be supporting in this year's Indian Premier League?

Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter


As the Absa Premiership nears the Christmas break, a little over half the season remains. Who will be crowned champions when all is said and done? Which teams will be relegated? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.