With the promise of unveiling ‘modern India’ to the world, IPL II hit the road, literally, when a parade of stars from the world of cricket and their glamorous owners passed through here on Thursday afternoon.
Streets bordered by eucalyptus and palm trees in key areas of the city were blocked, sending traffic for a toss. Forget complaining, hundreds lined up on the sides cheering the colorful procession featuring local dance troupes with the players waving from buses decked in team colours.
It was the second official indication of what a hit IPL II might be in South Africa after news that tickets for the first four matches were sold out almost as soon as they went on sale. The odd Indian was visible in the crowd which was otherwise made up of locals who said this was the first-ever procession here to mark a sporting event.
At a packed media conference earlier, the masterminds of this extraordinary show said that apart from providing business opportunities to many, IPL II was a platform to showcase South Africa in India “through TV” and also to give South Africa a “taste of India”.
“IPL stands for modern India,” said Etienne de Villiers, marketing head of the competition in South Africa, who has been president of the Walt Disney Television International, president of the Association of Tennis Professionals, and is the non-executive chairman of BBC Worldwide, the commercial wing of the broadcasting giants. “And modern India stands for aspiration, colour, noise and energy.” The procession embodied all of this.
Elaborating on how smoothly they finalised details of this 37-day tournament in about three weeks, De Villiers said: “If the fans like what you are doing, they'll come. You just have to brand and price the product suitably.”
Talking about other financial aspects of the tournament, its chairman Lalit Modi informed that South Africa is likely to earn more than the estimated $ 2 billion. “Forty-thousand hotel rooms have been reserved, over 10,000 domestic flights have been booked. These figures can only increase, so you just have to calculate.”
The interest IPL II has caused is genuinely massive. If things go according to plan, it is likely to be a glittering exhibition of “modern India” in the Rainbow Nation.