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Plenty of cheer for IPL circus

It was a Bollywood carnival of jangling music, dazzling light shows and extravagantly clad performers as cricket exploded into a brave new world yesterday.

The Indian Premier League's debut game was almost an afterthought as the 45-minute opening ceremony dazzled the crowd of 55,000 with acrobats and specially imported Washington Redskins cheerleaders.

A light ripple of jeers greeted Australian captain Ricky Ponting as he strode to the crease in yesterday's IPL opening game, briefly threatening to revive the bitterness of last summer's Test series against India.

However, the festive mood quickly returned with an avalanche of big-hitting cricket. Music blasted and cheerleaders danced after each four, six and over.

But the biggest cheers were reserved for the king of Indian cricket, Sachin Tendulkar, who was introduced among the eight captains of the IPL.

Shane Warne, the only non-Indian captain, was introduced as "the blond bombshell".

On the field, the Kolkata Knight Riders, led by Sourav Ganguly, won easily after making a massive 3-222 from their 20 overs.

New Zealander Brendon McCullum smashed 158 from 73 balls, Ponting hit 20 from 20 deliveries and Victorian David Hussey made 12.

In reply, the Bangalore Royal Challengers - featuring Victorian captain Cameron White and Ashley Noffke-- were all out for 82.

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