Stage set for the slam-bang show

The second edition of the IPL gets underway in its adopted home with a mouth-watering double header in Cape Town on Saturday.

updated: April 18, 2009 09:39 IST
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Cape Town:

Defying all odds, the second edition of the cash-awash Indian Premier League, a heady cocktail of cricket and entertainment, gets underway in its adopted home with a mouth-watering double header in Cape Town on Saturday.

It will be a double delight at the Newlands Stadium tomorrow with back-to-back matches featuring some of the best contemporary cricketers in this slam-bang version of the game. Under the iconic Sachin Tendulkar, Mumbai Indians will lock horns with last year's runners-up Chennai Super Kings, led by the charismatic Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Prior to that, maverick England batsman Kevin Pietersen will lead Bangalore Royal Challengers onto the field, hoping to shed last year's laggard's tag.

The task would be easier said than done because Rajasthan Royals, under the wily Shane Warne, would be hoping for an encore and the defending champions would definitely love to start their campaign on a winning note tomorrow.

More than any team, it, however, would be a triumph of the indomitable spirit of the organisers when the 59-match razzmatazz finally rolls off the block tomorrow.

Considering how the league's fate hung in balance after its dates clashed with India's general election and the Home Ministry back home cited its inability to provide security for the tournament, IPL authorities have moved mountains to make the entire thing possible.

IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi and his team burnt midnight oil first to find a base away from India and then making the necessary arrangements befitting an event of such stature.

South Africa, set to host 2010 soccer World Cup, sensed an opportunity to host a world class event and both the government and the cricket board went out of the way to facilitate all arrangements.

The only apparent blemish is the absence of Pakistani players who were barred by their government from playing in India due to the strained relationship between the neighbours in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks.

Even though IPL was eventually shifted to South Africa, the Pakistani players had their contracts either terminated or suspended.

Some of the Australian players, including captain Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey will skip the event, opting for some rest, while injuries will keep the likes of Brett Lee out of the event.