Low-key ICL start, organisers slapped with notice
With just over 200 spectators and about the same number of officials, media and policemen, the second edition of the Indian Cricket League's (ICL) "Edelweiss 20s challenge" started on a rather sedate note, that locals described as a 'flop show' on Sunday evening.
As if that was not embarrassing enough, the event organisers were slapped with a notice by the Panchkula district administration asking them to explain how they started it in the first place without official permission.
Despite improving the overall look of the stadium with bright yellow and red chairs and other facilities compared to its inaugural event at the Tau Devi Lal cricket stadium here last year, the ICL event failed to attract a crowd at the inaugural.
There were just over 200 genuine spectators in the stadium where the capacity of seats has been increased from 6,000 to nearly 10,000.
And the fireworks at the event inaugural were not limited to the skies over the beautifully floodlit stadium. The Panchkula district administration slapped a notice to the ICL event organizers for holding the event without mandatory permission, seeking a reply within two days.
Panchkula deputy commissioner Rajender Kataria confirmed that the notice had been given to the ICL organizers.
"We got the communication seeking permission on March 3 for the event starting March 12. It was sought at short notice. Even as we were looking into the matter, the event was re-scheduled to an earlier date (March 9) and started without permission. They have been asked through the notice to explain how it was started without permission," Kataria said.
Big names from the cricketing world - the likes of West Indian Brian Lara and Pakistan's Inzamam-ul-Haq - were not there at the inaugural as the local team Chandigarh Lions clashed with the newly inducted Ahmedabad Rockets. The Lions - finalists of the T20 edition last Nov - lost the opening encounter by 19 runs.
Even ICL's executive board chairman, legendary all-rounder Kapil Dev, was not present at the low-profile inaugural as former Indian wicketkeeper and ICL executive board member Kiran More held fort.
More had a justification for the poor turnout. "Our calculations went wrong because the examinations of various school boards are on. Most of the cricket lovers are students and hence the low turnout," he said.
The higher prices of stadium tickets for each match - hiked to Rs.200 and Rs.500 from the earlier Rs.100 and Rs.150 - was also being seen as a reason for the low turnout despite the inaugural being held on a Sunday.
At least six of the eight seating enclosures of the stadium here - located with the backdrop of the lower Himalayas - remained empty throughout the inaugural match.
The T20 event is being held at three venues - Panchkula, Gurgaon and Hyderabad - this time. Last year, it was held only in Panchkula.
The best of three finals of the event will be played at Panchkula (1) and Gurgaon (2) - the last one, if required, being played at Gurgaon April 7.