This weekend, all eyes are on Australia's answer to the IPL, the inaugural Big Bash League. However, for the Indian community in the Australian capital, it's another T20 league that's got them all excited - the maiden FINACT (Federation of Indian Associations in the Australian Capital Territory) T20 league, which will see teams from eight Indian states square off, and is the brainchild of former Kiwi all-rounder Chris Cairns.
With a vast Indian diaspora in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), teams comprising of players from eight Indian states - Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, West Bengal, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Assam - will battle it out at the Manuka Oval here over the first three weekends of February, to be crowned the best 'Indian' team in Australia. After the final, the eleven best players in the league, irrespective of their state, will compete in a T20 match against a Pakistan XI comprising of Pakistanis living in Australia.
Speaking to HT, Aakash Saikia, who will captain the Assam side, reveals how the idea took shape. "Chris Cairns was present at the FINACT sub-committee meeting a month back when talk of this league came up. He gave us an assurance that he will help out with the sponsorship required to organise the tournament."
The former Kiwi great moved with his family to Canberra in September after the birth of his daughter Isabel, who was born with profound hearing loss and needed a bi-lateral cochlear implant. He was offered a job as an executive by real estate firm Colliers International, and also joined a club side in Canberra to, in his own words, "lose a few pounds".
He used his pull in the Colliers boardroom to ensure they sponsor the T20 league. Saikia added that the draw for the league would be made at the Manuka Oval on Monday with either India skipper MS Dhoni or Rahul Dravid doing the honours.