The Kochi Tuskers IPL franchise may have been terminated, but Kerala cricket buffs can now await the entry of T20 team Kerala Strikers in the Celebrity Cricket League (CCL) representing movie actors from the state.
The team will be captained by southern superstar Mohanlal, who co-owns Kerala Strikers along with director Priyadarshan's wife Lissy and another person.
"Last year there were just four teams - representing the Tamil, Telugu, Bollywood and Kannada film industries. Kerala and Bengal have now joined CCL. The matches for the second edition will begin Jan 21 and end with the final Feb 12," Lissy, who was a glamourous actress in the Malayalam film industry more than a decade back, said.
"We have invested more than Rs.3 crore in our team and it includes Rs. 90 lakh as franchisee fees which we have paid."
"The team owners have to meet all the expenses of the players. At the moment we do not have any sponsors for our team, but we are in talks with a few," said Lissy.
The other stars in Kochi Strikers include vice captain Indrajith, his brother Prithviraj, Kunchacko Bobban, Asif Ali and also CPI-M politburo member Kodiyeri Balakrishnan's son Bineesh Kodiyeri.
"The rules for being a CCL team member are laid out. Each team should have six heroes who should have acted in at least three films, five character artists who should have acted in five films and one team member who should have acted as a hero in at least one film," said Lissy, who is coordinating the team.
The first match of the second edition of CCL will take place Jan 21 when they will take on Telegu Warriors in Hyderabad.
Then the tournament shifts base to Sharjah, where there is a huge following of Indian films and film stars. On Jan 26 at Sharjah, Kerala Strikers will take on Mumbai Heroes and the next day they will play Karnataka Bull Dozers. On Jan 29, Kerala will take on Bengal Tigers at Kochi.
On Feb 4, they will play Chennai Rhinos and the final will take place in Kolkata.
"There is a cash prize of Rs.2.5 million for the winners," said Lissy, who is confident of winning. "Our team will win the cup, simply because we are the best team!"
The owners of all CCL teams will meet at a grand gala in Kochi Oct 6.
"That day we will release the team logo and the jersey besides fielding the full Kerala Strikers team. Sourav Ganguly, mentor of the Bengal team, Sohail Khan who owns the Mumbai team and leading lights from the southern Indian film industry would be also present," said Lissy.
CCL officials are now in talks with TV channels for selling the rights and they are waiting to see if the gates can be thrown open for free. If not, there might be a entry fee.