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Lights, camera, action: IPL 2 is here

Before the IPL action, however, came the bang with the news of Sourav Ganguly being replaced by Brendon McCullum as the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) captain. It was announced that the Kiwi would lead for the entire tournament, writes Atreyo Mukhopadhyay.

cricket Updated: Apr 18, 2009 01:59 IST
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay

The countdown had begun when Indian Premier League (IPL) officials decided to shift the event to South Africa following security issues due to the general elections.

The wait is now over and it will literally be lights, camera and action from Saturday.

Before the action, however, came the bang with the news of Sourav Ganguly being replaced by Brendon McCullum as the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) captain. It was announced that the Kiwi would lead for the entire tournament.

“He (Ganguly) has taken it in the best spirit and would be my right-hand man,” said McCullum.

That, though, didn't affect the buildup at all because South Africa is passionate about sports. People here know more about Indian sport than just cricket.

They talk about the rift between Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi, Sania Mirza's dress code and a golfer called Singh (Jeev Milkha). When it comes to T20, they are crazy. For them, the Ganguly issue must wait.

The local dailies have been running regular special features. The biggest sports channel SuperSports has been beaming last year's IPL footage for 12 hours daily for the last few days. So even though the locals aren't sure which team to support, they can't just wait for it to begin.

The organisers have done everything to take the event to the masses. They paraded the teams on separate buses through the city streets accompanied by local dance troupes on Thursday.

It threw traffic off gear but instead of complaining, locals came out in hundreds. On Friday, they launched an 8 million rands (close to $ 1 million) scholarship programme for local schools.

The masterminds of this show have been saying it's about marketing and pricing a product. They have done exceptionally on these fronts so far, which can be estimated from the fact that tickets for the weekend doubleheader were sold out soon after bookings opened. And to make the opening ceremony glittering they have shifted it to the evening, after the matches, so that the fireworks shine against the dark sky.

Players too are loving it with the weather being a lot kinder than what it would have been in India. They are enjoying the stardom without the frenzy that keeps them from having a walk around the hotel in India and are relaxed and raring to go at the same time.

Last but not least, the cheerleaders are also looking cool in the knowledge that there would be no right-wing outcry against what they must wear. With everyone involved happy, it looks as if all are in a win-win situation before the games start separating winners from losers.