India upbeat as IPL makes international debut
Let us have a look at how Indian fans are caught up with the IPL fever and how players from different country are lined-up for the big show.
<p>The IPL, with instant millionaires and lashings of Bollywood stardust, begins its second season on April 18, thousands of kilometres from home and with controversy raging in its slipstream.</p> <p>For Eden Gardens and Wankhede, now read Wanderers and Centurion. </p> <p>Befitting a competition conceived in one of the world's more volatile sporting regions, the IPL splashes the cash and shrugs off the consequences.</p> <p>The tournament will not feature any Pakistan players, banned by their own government in the aftermath of November's terrorist attacks in Mumbai which sparked a deterioration in relations between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.</p> <p>Barring Pakistan, players from all top cricket-playing countries will be seen action in the Twenty20 carnival. </p> <p>Let us have a look at how Indian fans are caught up with the IPL fever and how players from different country are lined-up for the big show.</p>
Monideepa Bose can't wait for the Indian Premier League to start, even though the glitzy Twenty20 tournament is taking place in far away South Africa rather than at home.<br /> <br /> Bose, 39, a Delhi housewife with two school-going children, is not a big cricket fan but was hooked to the IPL's inaugural season last year for entirely personal reasons.<br /> <br /> "Suddenly, I found my husband returning home early from office and my children also preferred to stay at home in the evenings -- because they all wanted to watch the IPL on television.<br /> <br /> "It was total bliss for six weeks. I followed it too...because I did not want to be left out of the conversation which was entirely about the IPL," she said.<br /> <br /> The Bose family bonding was played out in many homes across India as millions in the cricket-mad country stayed glued to the action, a heady mix of cricket and Bollywood dance and drama.<br /> <br /> The excitement is expected to be high even though this year's tournament -- touted as a domestic Indian event -- was forced to shift out of the country after the government declined to provide it adequate security.<br /> <br /> The government refused to release paramilitary forces to guard the 59-match event since the dates clashed with parliamentary elections that will be held in five phases from April 16 to May 13.<br /> <br /> Leading cricketers, including Sachin Tendulkar, said the IPL will not be the same away from home where they are used to being cheered by packed crowds upwards of 60,000.<br /> <br /> "We will miss the support we got last year," said Tendulkar, the highest run-getter in Tests and one-dayers who leads his home team of Mumbai Indians in the IPL.<br /> <br /> "The concept of home and away games has gone this year. This is what we will miss the most."
<p>Moving the Indian Premier League (IPL) extravaganza to South Africa will help create a silver lining to the grey economic clouds hovering above the country. </p> <p>Economists here speculate that the IPL glitz-and-glamour show, British and Irish Lions rugby tour and FIFA Confederations Cup tournament could provide a 200-million-dollar revenue boost come early July. </p> <p>South Africans are feeling the financial pinch, but not so much that they have to abandon watching their favourite sport with tickets for the two IPL double-headers in Cape Town this weekend sold out inside two hours. </p> <p>And any tourism fall-off suffered by the Mother City at the bottom of the continent will be more than compensated for when the IPL hits town ready to splash the cash. </p> <p>One and Only, a five-star made-for-celebs hotel opened just two weeks, is a hive of activity and Cape Town will be just the first of many South African cities to benefit from the five-week, 59-match tournament. </p> <p>No South African is happier than football official Danny Jordaan at the decision to select South Africa ahead of England as the temporary 'home' of a show likely to woo many converts to the shortest version of the game. </p> <p>"Moving this tournament, with its considerable financial implications and huge global television audience, to South Africa in such a short space of time is yet another major indication of world confidence in us," said Jordann.</p> <p>"Some of the biggest cricket stars in the world will be here showcasing again the world-class facilities of our country and love for high-quality entertainment." </p> <p>There will be plenty of familiar faces on the IPL pitches as well with the 15 original South African choices for the second edition bolstered by late additions Yusuf Abdulla and Charl Langeveldt. </p> <p>All the big-name Proteas are there and also Durban-born Tyron Henderson, whose 262 Twenty20 wickets convinced defending champions Rajasthan Royals to spend 650,000 dollars and win a fierce bidding war with Deccan Chargers.</p>
The Indian Premier League will be missing one spicy ingredient from its heady mix in 2009 after Pakistan's exhilarating players were exiled from the money-spinning tournament.<br /> <br /> The Pakistan government banned its players from participating in the IPL after political relations with India deteriorated in the wake of November's terror-attacks in Mumbai, which New Delhi blamed on militants based across the border.<br /> <br /> By the time the IPL was relocated to South Africa, following the Indian government's refusal to provide adequate security, as the event overlapped with parliamentary elections, Pakistani players' contracts had already been either terminated or suspended.<br /> <br /> The IPL refused to include Pakistan players even after the relocation, claiming new stars had been bought by franchises as replacements. <br /> <br /> Even Pakistan's two world class umpires, Aleem Dar and Asad Rauf, were left out in the cold.<br /> <br /> Pakistan captain Younus Khan said the IPL will suffer due to the absence of players from his country.<br /> <br /> "Pakistani players are hugely popular in India, so even after the shift, the fans will miss them," said Younus who withdrew from IPL champions Rajasthan Royals squad this year even before the government's banning order.<br /> <br /> All-rounder Sohail Tanveer played a leading role in Royals' title triumph, taking 22 wickets to finish as player of the tournament.<br /> <br /> Fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar, who despite playing only four games for Kolkata Knight Riders was a huge attraction, still hopes for a return.<br /> <br /> "Without Pakistani players the event has lost its charm. I still hope if the franchises want us we would be included," said Akhtar.
<p>Country comes before cash for Australia's elite cricketers with international commitments and the battle for the Ashes pushing the glitzy IPL into the background.</p> <p>Seven IPL-contracted stars including Shane Watson and Andrew Symonds, will be playing for Australia in the one-day series against Pakistan, starting in Dubai next week.</p> <p>Australia's captain Ricky Ponting and senior batsman Mike Hussey also won't be backing up for a second IPL season in an effort to freshen up after an arduous season ahead of the Ashes series in England later this year. </p> <p>Pace spearhead Mitchell Johnson and team vice-captain Michael Clarke did not nominate for the 2009 IPL auction, instead placing a priority on their international commitments.</p> <p>Last year's leading run-scorer Shaun Marsh, Nathan Bracken, James Hopes and David Hussey will all be playing for Australia in Dubai.</p> <p>Lee and Symonds will be the big losers financially.</p> <p>Symonds will lose around 1.35 million US for missing the bulk of the Deccan Chargers campaign, while Lee could forgo around 1 million US the Kings XI Punjab.</p> <p>Lee's manager, Neil Maxwell, said his client's focus was solely on breaking back in the Australian side and the paceman was prepared to miss the IPL to follow the wishes of national medical staff after ankle and foot surgery.</p> <p>Retired Australian cricket greats Shane Warne, Adam Gilchrist, Matt Hayden and Glenn McGrath, will be back for the IPL along with batsmen Brad Hodge and David Warner.</p> <p>Warne led the Rajasthan Royals to the inaugural title and the 39-year-old legspin great is hoping to win over the South African fans with Proteas captain Graeme Smith playing under him.</p> <p>"The (South African) public have booed me most of the time, but hopefully playing with the Rajasthan Royals they'll get behind me," Warne said.</p> <p>McGrath, who retired from Test cricket at the same time as Warne in 2007, says the IPL had changed the nature of world cricket.</p> <p>"I think it probably has, hopefully for the better," he said. "As a player, it's good to go over there.</p>
<p>The weight of expectation is firmly on the shoulders of England heavyweights Andrew Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen after their high-profile signings for the IPL.<br /> <br /> At the player auction for the eight-team Indian Premier League, Flintoff and Pietersen attracted most interest amid a glittering array of global cricket talent on offer.<br /> <br /> Big-money franchise employers Chennai Super Kings and the Royal Challengers Bangalore paid a startling 1.55 million dollars apiece to seal the services of Flintoff and Pietersen respectively.<br /> <br /> The duo will, however, receive only half their money as England players are available for just the first three weeks before heading home for a Test series with the West Indies.<br /> <br /> Other current regular England players who will feature in the IPL include Ravi Bopara (Kings XI Punjab), and Owais Shah and Paul Collingwood (Delhi Daredevils).<br /> <br /> Dimitri Mascarenas, who was the sole English representative during last season's inaugural IPL - albeit playing only one match, will again line up for the Shane Warne-coached Rajasthan Royals.<br /> <br /> The high-profile signings of Flintoff and Pietersen highlighted the global appeal that both cricketers enjoy and organisers consider essential for the maximum amount of coverage of a tournament moved from India over security concerns.<br /> <br /> But the pair also have some work to do to re-establish themselves at world cricket's top table.<br /> <br /> Pietersen lost the England captaincy and failed to dominate for much of England's winter tour to the West Indies, while Flintoff's credentials as a true all-rounder currently flounder on a lack of runs and the perpetual threat of another injury.<br /> <br /> Flintoff said he intended to become England's spy in a bid to help their World Twenty20 campaign, which runs from June 5-21 in England.<br /> <br /> "The Twenty20 World Cup is going to be huge," said the all-rounder. "I'll be watching the likes of Dhoni, who has played a lot of it, and Hayden who had a good IPL last year.</p> <p>"I know I'm only bowling four overs a game, but it will give me a chance to work on my game in between games going into a Test series.</p> <p>One concern voiced by many observers is that the IPL is one tournament too many for the England cricketers given their congested summer that includes Test and one-day series against West Indies, the World Twenty20 as well as the Ashes.<br /> <br /> "It is a long schedule and everyone is looking forward to the Ashes and making sure everyone is fit for that but I've stressed all along that we have to perform in all the games we're playing," said Flintoff.</p>
<p>A year ago in New Zealand, where cricket struggles to make a dollar, players would have scoffed at suggestions they could earn a fortune from playing a handful of Twenty20 games.</p> <p>But along came the mega-wealth of the Indian Premier League (IPL), turning New Zealand cricket upside down with an immense power that stretched beyond the Twenty20 circuit.</p> <p>In a country which has a small talent pool to begin with, some players were excused national duties to play for the IPL while others were barred from Test cricket for signing with the rival Indian Cricket League (ICL).</p> <p>The handful of players who signed for the first IPL series last year were freed from New Zealand's warm-up games before the Test series in England so they could make money in India.</p> <p>The five were paid on a pro-rata basis, meaning Brendon McCullum, who signed with the Kolkata Knight Riders for 700,000 US dollars, earned a reported 155,000 dollars for a fortnight's work.</p> <p>He then joined his poorer teammates in England who earned much less than that in a year for New Zealand.</p> <p>Meanwhile, the one bowler of genuine international pace and quality, Shane Bond, was told he could not play for New Zealand again because he signed for the rival ICL.</p> <p>"There were lots of politics going on in the background," said Bond who maintained he signed after being told it would not affect his Test status.</p> <p>The power of the IPL money has also seen cynics ring talk radio stations to suggest a link to the return to fitness of injury-prone all-rounder Jacob Oram who missed the Indian Tests because of an Achilles strain.</p> <p>Oram bristled at the suggestion he was saving himself for the lucrative league and pledged not to fulfil his 675,000 US dollar contract with the Super Kings if he could not play in New Zealand's domestic championship final.</p> <p>But it is not all about money for New Zealand batsman Ross Taylor who was delighted when the series was moved from India to South Africa over security concerns.</p> <p>"If you're dead you can't earn any money. Life's obviously more important than earning cash," he said.</p> <p><strong>Eight New Zealanders are involved in the IPL</strong> -- Ross Taylor, Jesse Ryder (Bangalore Royal Challengers); Brendon McCullum (Kolkata Knight Riders); Stephen Fleming (coach), Jacob Oram (Chennai Super Kings); Kyle Mills (Mumbai Indians); Daniel Vettori (Delhi Daredevils) and Scott Styris (Deccan Chargers).</p>
<p>West Indies captain Chris Gayle will head up the Caribbean swashbucklers at the second IPL tournament.</p> <p>Gayle will hope to make up for his injury-hit season last year when he turns out for the Kolkata Knight Riders in South Africa, the venue for the competition after security threats saw it moved from India.</p> <p>The 29-year-old left-hander, who enjoys an impressive average batting average of 40 plus in both Tests and One-Day Internationals, can be a destructive force when he gets going.</p> <p>He formerly held the record for the highest innings in a Twenty20, having scored 117 against South Africa in the World Twenty20 Championship, and was the only batsman to have hit a century in the format.</p> <p>New Zealander Brendon McCullum eventually broke that record when he notched up an incredible 158 not out for the Kolkata Knight Riders in the first game of the inaugural IPL in 2008.</p> <p>At the IPL player auction for the eight-team league, which comprises 59 Twenty20 games over five weeks, fast bowlers Fidel Edwards and Jerome Taylor - who are both useful with the bat, were both snapped up for 150,000 dollars by Deccan Chargers and Kings XI Punjab respectively.</p> <p>The Chargers also signed Dwayne Smith for 100,000 dollars, while rookie Barbadian pacer Kemar Roach and Kieron Pollard both remained unsold at the auction.</p> <p>Dwayne Bravo will hope to star for the Mumbai Indians in his second season after West Indies selectors chose to ignore him for the two-Test series against England, which will see his IPL countrymen have to leave South Africa on May 1.</p> <p>Gayle and the likes of Edwards will, like their seven possible England opponents in the IPL, be available for a little less than two weeks and will be paid on a pro-rata basis as a result.</p> <p>The run-up to the IPL was marked by a threat by five senior West Indies players to withdraw from the series in England as they had already committed to play in the tournament.</p> <p>The problem arose after the series was arranged bilaterally between the West Indies and England boards after the withdrawal of Sri Lanka - whose players demanded they be allowed to play in the IPL - and falls outside the Future Tours Programme.</p>
<p>Sri Lankan cricketers will be wary, changed men when they line-up at the IPL, their first foreign assignment since they were caught up in the bloodbath of Lahore.</p> <p>On March 3, gunmen attacked the Sri Lankan team bus en route for the third day of the second Test against Pakistan in the city.</p> <p>Eight Pakistanis died; seven of the tourists, as well as their assistant coach, were wounded.</p> <p>The 2009 IPL, which starts on Saturday, was shifted to South Africa after Indian authorities admitted that they could not give security guarantees as the tournament clashed with elections in the country.</p> <p>Sri Lanka sports minister Gamini Lokuge regretted the IPL was moved out of India, whose financial muscle accounts for about 70 percent of the game's worldwide revenues.</p> <p>"Safety takes precedence over what fans here want," Lokuge said. </p> <p>"I can't risk our national players for overseas matches, where the organisers can't protect them."</p> <p>Sangakkara, who scored 320 runs for the King's XI Punjab in last year's IPL, reckoned the stadium buzz in India cannot be replicated in South Africa, but the tournament still has a strong appeal. </p> <p>"The electrifying atmosphere, the music, the shouting, the sea of people, you know, you won't find that there (South Africa). I think that might be a way to shift it back to India next year," he said. </p> <p>Meanwhile, Sri Lankan fans are looking forward to seeing their star cricketers playing alongside other international players.</p> <p>Many fans hope the event will sharpen the team's game ahead of the World Twenty20 championship that begins in England in June.</p> <p>Sangakkara, Muttiah Muralitharan, Mahela Jayawardane, Sanath Jayasuriya, Thilakaratne Dishan and Ajantha Mendis are some of the key players on three-year contracts with the IPL.</p> <p>Jayasuriya, Sri Lanka's former skipper, plays alongside India's Sachin Tendulkar and many fans see the duo as twin weapons for the Mukesh Ambani-owned Mumbai Indians</p>