The cheerleader infection, brought to India last year by the Indian Premium League tournament, is catching.
Strangely, first to be hit is conservative Indore in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh.
But while the IPL tournament employed foreign, skimpily clad female models, the cricket establishment in Indore has turned to tribal dancers of both sexes from Jhabua district, 120 km westwards, dressed in their traditional finery.
The first T-20 tournament organised by the Indore Divisional Cricket Association (IDCA) which held its first match on Wednesday, saw the tribal cheerleader band in full action, breaking into a jig – to the accompaniment of folk music – whenever a wicket fell, or a boundary was scored.
The IDCA is headed by Kailash Vijayvargiya (50), commerce and information minister in the MP cabinet.
“The minister chaired the meeting that decided to use cheerleaders,” said Amardeep Patania, IDCA secretary. “But we were determined to use cheerleaders who promoted Indian culture, not the IPL variety who raised many controversies.”
The cheerleaders were delighted. “I’d never expected to perform in front of such a large crowd,” said one of them, 14-year-old Aarti Sonliya. “I felt I was in heaven.”
“It has given us a great platform,” said Mohanlal Yadav, the dance troupe’s coordinator.