IPL holds team parade two days before campagin

Nov 30, -0001
CAPE TOWN: A team parade was held in Cape Town on Thursday (16th April) with the start of the second Indian Premier League (IPL) campaign just two days away.

In an earlier press conference, I.P.L. Commissioner Lalit Modi said that South Africa was "simply the best choice" to stage the 59-match tournament following security concerns in India.

The Twenty20 Indian Premier League was hastily moved out of India just over three weeks ago for security reasons as the dates clashed with general elections.

The razzamattaz remains though - with Thursday providing the opportunity for a team parade through picturesque Cape Town.

IPL commissioner Lalit Modi was all smiles following the decision to stage the sporting money-spinner on South African soil.

England also sounded out the possibility of becoming hosts - but the prospect of bad weather in April didn't help the country's cause.

So South Africa has met the logistical challenge of preparing eight stadiums at short notice, booking thousands of hotel rooms, and laying on extra flights.

Before the parade, Modi re-stated his position on the venue change.

"South Africa was simply the best choice. I believed that then, I believed that over the last 22 days, and I believe it now, very much so," he said.

Eight-teams will compete in the 59-match tournament, lasting 37 days, with the opening phase split into a double round-robin.

The event will add an estimated 1.5 billion to 2 billion rands ($150-200 million) to South Africa's local economy.

Modi, meanwhile, hopes to raise the competition's worldwide profile.

"This for us is a huge, huge opportunity, to built IPL as a global brand. That is what our objective has always been, and that is the objective we will have going forward," said Modi.

Modi also hopes players such as leading Test run-scorer Sachin Tendulkar (Mumbai Indians), former England captain Kevin Pietersen (Royal Challengers Bangalore), South Africa skipper Graeme Smith and former Australia legspinner Shane Warne (Rajasthan Royals) will encourage fans to turn out in their droves.

Modi said, "Similarly - we hope we have the world's best players, playing extremely competitive cricket, and at the end of the day, if you are a cricket fan, you are gonna like to watch cricket, now we hope, they want to watch the Delhi Devils play the challengers Bangalore, and play so on and so on team, and they get attached to those teams, and they become fans of those teams over the years."

Already the world's richest cricket league, the I.P.L. has brought a touch of Bollywood glamour to South Africa.

Indian megastar Shah Rukh Khan owns the Kolkata Knight Riders, while actresses Shilpa Shetty and Preity Zinta are the respective co-owners of the Rajasthan Royals and the Kings XI Punjab franchises.

Khan outlined their motives to reporters.

"The only selling aspect of IPL is the great cricket that is gonna come. I joke about movie stars owning teams, etc., but the real truth is that the three of us and the other five owners, we all want to do something for sports, apart from cricket also, and that's why? everybody has got an attitude that they want to do something for sports," said, Shah Rukh Khan.

South Africa's speedy preparations come as it also gets set to stage football's Confederations Cup in June and the 2010 football World Cup.

Saturday's (18th April) opening IPL match will be played in Cape Town between the Bangalore Royal Challengers and trophy holders the Rajasthan Royals.

The final will take place in Johannesburg on 24th May.

Other fixtures will take place in Pretoria, Durban, Port Elizabeth and East London.

In an effort to avoid late finishes, games will now include new regulated strategy breaks.

Modi said there will be a 7?-minute pause in play at the halfway stage of every 20-over innings to allow teams to discuss tactics for the remainder of the innings. -AGENCIES






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