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'IPL is an extension of Indian diplomacy in South Africa'

cricket Updated: May 15, 2009 16:22 IST
Ashis Ray
Ashis Ray
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The Twenty20 Indian Premier League (IPL) has proved to be a noticeable extension of Indian diplomacy in South Africa, Rajiv Kumar Bhatia, Indian high commissioner, said here.

"It does complement our efforts and we are happy that IPL has left a positive imprint in South Africa so far," he said.

Bhatia told IANS: "IPL has contributed significantly to better people-to-people relations."
Citing the fact of people of Indian origin in this country thronging the grounds where matches are taking place, especially in the city of Durban, he remarked: "They see in the IPL a revival of their mela, which all Indians love to go to."

He added: "They are also happy to see the contemporary face of India - very confident, vibrant, on-the-go."

Regarding criticism in a section of the South African press about the IPL organisers throwing their money around, the high commissioner, while not dismissing such views, referred to reactions of the South African government and Cricket South Africa, the national governing body for the game.

He illustrated that the interim president and now deputy president, Kgalema Motlanthe, said, "the IPL was injecting a significant amount of investment in South Africa".

As for CSA, he claimed: "They are extremely joyous, happy and grateful that this opportunity came their way; and of course, we appreciate the ready co-operation they extended to us."