Lights, Action, Drama on Friday!
All pretensions of experts at predicting the course of a Twenty20 tournament were first smashed to smithereens and then crushed under the grinder that Team India morphed into during the World Cup in South Africa.
Since public memory is short and experts manage to sound lofty even after having had their teeth knocked out before, detailed analysis on just who amongst the six teams has the edge may well be expected.
From the sidelines of the Indian Cricket League, it would be foolhardy then to predict or pick any favourites. But one thing is certain - the format has shown that it does not need stars to shine.
The format itself carries a kick that brings alive an audience as this is cricket on the rocks. And to top it, its bottoms-up all the way.
Chandigarh Lions take on Delhi Jets to uncork the bubbly that’s been on the boil ever since announcement of the ICL in April.
Led by Chris Cairns and Marvan Atapattu, the two sides have a balanced arsenal. Dinesh Mongia, Kiwi Hamish Marshall and former Pak opener Imran Farhat will form the core of the Lions batting line-up.
South African Andrew Hall along with captain of the under-17 world cup winning squad Reetinder Sodhi will try to showcase their all-round skills. Daryll Tuffey, Love Ablish and Gaurav Gupta are the main strike bowlers for the Lions.
The Jets have another Pak opener in the form of Taufiq Umar to back up Atapattu along with Yashpal Singh and Abbas Ali. South African Dale Benkenstein and Niall O’Brien round off the batting department.
JP Yadav and English wicketkeeper Paul Nixon prop up the middle order while Shalabh Srivastav and Abhishek T will get first shot at firing in the cherry. Balwinder Singh Sandhu and Madan Lal will match wits as coaches of opposing camps.
Meanwhile, the wicket promises to be full of runs. As of now it has a fair smattering of green and curator Phil Russell, who has worked on the legendary Kingsmead track at Durban, is confident the ball will bounce high and come on nicely.
The first edition of the Premier Hockey League showed that getting players from elsewhere and putting them in the colours of a local team does not really get the crowd going.
As to just how well the local populace adopts Chandigarh Lions remains to be seen but the presence of home boy Mongia is sure to help.
The ICL promises to be exciting and yet is an unknown commodity. The only thing known so far is an impressive line-up of Bollywood and Corporate India which is proposed at the launch.
The fact, however, is that while the stadium is in one corner of this Chandigarh satellite town, the place is brimming with the curious. Organisers claim that 85% tickets are already sold.