Mumbai:Since all roads led to the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai on Friday evening, Star Dust descended from the skies.
So just before the Indian Premier League Season 3 was about to open with the usual extravaganza and dazzle, no less than 20 helicopters landed at the stadium about a 90-minute drive from central Mumbai.
Sachin Tendulkar and family, former Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, BCCI president Shashank Manohar, IS Bindra, foreign delegates and many more alighted from the steel birds and made their way to the ceremony in style.
But no one arrived in more style than IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi. He walked out of a helicopter, into a BMW which then drove him to the VIP gate. Why not. It is his day. And the next 45 days as a heady mix of cricket, fun and glamour take over.
The highlight of the ceremony was a spectacular light and sound extravaganza, which included international performers and pop stars like Lionel Richie.
Popular band UB40's Ali Campbell, Bjorn Again and Bollywood star Deepika Padukone regaled the spectators with their songs and dance routines on a stage erected on the turf.
Prior to the one-hour showbiz, captains of all the eight participating teams - Sachin Tendulkar, Shane Warne, Gautam Gambhir, Kumar Sangakkara, Adam Gilchrist, Sourav Ganguly, Anil Kumble and Mahendra Singh Dhoni - took the 'MCC - Spirit of Cricket' oath to respect their opponents, their teams and the umpires.
The eight players also signed the 'Spirit of Cricket Board' as an attestation to play the game within the spirit of cricket after an address by BCCI chief Shashank Manohar.
In line with IPL's partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the captains of the franchises also affixed their autographs on a globe made of recyclable materials to demonstrate their commitment to reduce individual as well as the League's carbon footprint.
A spectacular laser show depicting cricket action, accompanied by Oscar winner A R Rehman's superhit song "Jai Ho" brought on big cheer from the crowd in the stadium which was not jam-packed as expected.
The programme also included a brief video collage titled "Journey of IPL" based on the Twenty20 League's three-year journey.
Padukone, along with 40 dancers, performed to a medley of hit songs, while Hoola Hoop juggling artists also created the logos of the eight IPL teams using LED glow sticks.
The ceremony, that started with Campbell's hit song "Can't Help Falling in Love", supported by a troupe of dancers in colourful costumes, ended with pop veteran Richie's hit single "Dancing On The Ceiling" and a spectacular fireworks display.
After the opening ceremony, defending champions Deccan Chargers took on Kolkata Knight Riders in the first match of the tournament.
It s cricketainment time, folks.
(With PTI inputs)