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SRK launches Kolkata Knight Riders

After Mumbai, T20’s Indian incarnation rolled east and checked into the Prince of Calcutta territory with King Khan in the forefront, reports Mukhopadhyay.
Hindustan Times | By Atreyo Mukhopadhyay, Kolkata
UPDATED ON MAR 12, 2008 03:30 AM IST

It was an occasion to celebrate cricket’s newest avatar and soak in whatever was spilling over from a toast raised to its future. After Mumbai, Twenty20’s Indian incarnation rolled east and on Tuesday, checked into the Prince of Calcutta territory with King Khan in the forefront of the bandwagon.

Things were suitably decked up to mark the official unveiling of the Kolkata Knight Riders and the vibrant presence of Shah Rukh Khan added to the do a fervor that was different from the one in Mumbai featuring Sachin Tendulkar on Saturday. Juhi Mehta nee Chawla was around too, completing the splash of glamour on this starry, starry countdown to the Indian Premier League (IPL).

The focus was on the infinite potential of Twenty20 in the commercial capital of cricket and the cynosure was describing his dream of capturing the imagination of the young and restless with this variety of the game. Mascot Hoog Lee the tiger was unveiled, team promos stormed the screen and a fiery theme song composed by Vishal Shekhar of Om Shanti Om fame and sung by Vishal Dadlani was launched.

Sourav Ganguly was there as well, happily overshadowed by Shah Rukh, but didn’t forget to make his point when he did get the chance to speak.

“Twenty20 reduces the gap between teams because it’s all about 20 overs. The longer the duration, quality becomes more important.”

The captain of the Riders was not downplaying the importance of T20, but explaining the futility of looking for favourites.

The owner of this team had to elaborate on this dream which he wants to live, just like the ones he has already realised in life. Shah Rukh also had to say how it feels to launch a cricket extravaganza a day after seeing the hockey team plunge to a nightmarish low and speak on his plans to develop other sports.

“Cricket is a business here and if we can earn money, we can take it to other sports like hockey, football and everything else. Ideally, I’d love to have Knight Riders teams for many other sports.”

Tickets no problem
The prickly issue of tickets came up too and Shah Rukh assured everything would be sorted out. His company Red Chillies Entertainment wants 80 per cent of the seats at Eden Gardens to sell tickets, while the Cricket Association of Bengal is unwilling to do away with so many. “We’ll work out something that makes all of us happy. That’s the first thing that we’ll do,” he said, in the presence of CAB president Prasun Mukherjee.

Five local players
Shah Rukh, who said he would be present at all seven matches the Riders play at home, also welcomed on stage the four Bengal players who have been added to the team that features international stars like Ricky Ponting, Chris Gayle, Shoaib Akhtar, Brendon McCullum and Tatenda Taibu. Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Sourasish Lahiri, Wriddhiman Saha, Rohan Banerjee completed the local quartet with Ranadeb Bose expected to join soon.

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