Cricket in India had new live action to choose from as the first Twenty20 Indian championship organised by the rebel Indian Cricket League (ICL) got underway in Panchkula on Friday in a carnival-like atmosphere at the Tau Devi Lal sports complex cricket stadium, 15 kms from Chandigarh.
Local team Chandigarh Lions led by former New Zealander Chris Cairns took on the Delhi Jets led by former Sri Lankan skipper Marvan Atapattu in the opening match of the championship in Panchkula.
The inaugural ceremony and the match was a star-studded affair with not only the 30-odd international stars - including the likes of Brian Lara and Inzamam-ul-Haq - but also Bollywood star Kareena Kapoor leading the glamour brigade and railways minister Lalu Prasad Yadav and Essel group chairman, the promoter company of ICL, Subhash Chandra, ICL executive board chairman Kapil Dev and Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda adding to the list of VIPs present on the occasion.
While Kareena set the specially erected stage on fire with her performance on a few popular Bollywood numbers, other fireworks lit up the sky as the championship started.
A capacity crowd of nearly 7,000 filled up the newly erected stands on the occasion and cheered almost everything.
An excited Kapil could not hide his happiness as the event started.
"I am happy and excited the way our hard work has borne fruit. We have come this far because we believe in what we have set out for - to change the face of domestic cricket in India," Kapil said.
ICL has announced the highest ever prize money for any domestic championship - a total of $ 4 million - with the winner of the six team event alone pocketing $ 1 million (Rs 39 million).