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The greatest show on turf

The Indian Premier League kick-started with a 45-minute entertainment programme that sent the spectators into a rapturous frenzy.

The thrill of Twenty-20 cricket was yet to come.

A capacity crowd, that thronged the Chinnaswamy stadium to be a part of the historic inaugural match of the DLF-Indian Premier League, was treated to an entertainment blitz of music, dance and festivities.

Opening the entertainment was the trio of Shankar-Ehsan-Loy belting out ethnic fusion music with chants of ‘C’mon Bengelaru’ and ‘Jhoom Barabar’ medley.

Next up were the cheerleaders of Royal Challengers, the Washington Redskins who regaled the full house with their pom-poms, rah-rah, bubble dancers and stilt-walkers act. Welcome to the American flavoured glitz in Indian cricket.

Even as the crescendo built up, Alma Aieto levitated (suspended with wires) atop the podium to croon the opening number and her act was topped up with a fireworks display that reverberated throughout the stadium. Diwali had arrived some months ahead of schedule.

Cricket fans streamed into the stadium as the gates opened at 2 p.m. In a couple of hours the stadium was half-full and as the time for the inauguration approached it was a full house.

Two fogging machines spewed out large quantities of artificial mist to create an ambience of an open air disco.

Strategically placed strobe lights added to the atmosphere and the regular cricket aficionados lapped it up gleefully.

The entertainment programme was followed by the introduction of the captains of the eight teams, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, V.V.S. Laxman, Shane Warne, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh and Sachin Tendulkar.

Sunil Gavaskar declared that the all matches would be played under the ICC’s Spirit of Cricket guidelines. Rahul Dravid set the tone of signing the declaration which all other captains attested.

Mr. Sharad Pawar, President of the BCCI, averred that the launch of the IPL was a historic occasion that would be watched and followed with keen interest by people all over the world.

Mr. Ray Mali, President of ICC, said that the IPL would take cricket to a new level.

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