KOLKATA — Its scandalous past seasons still quite fresh in memory, the Indian Premier League (IPL) organisers will look to ensure that the focus remains firmly on cricket when the cash-rich event gets underway with a glamorous opening ceremony, featuring top Bollywood stars, here today.
After a pulling off a controversy-free tournament last year, the organisers would again be hoping for a smooth run when the 47-day tournament, marred by a spot-fixing scandal in 2013, kickstarts with defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders taking on Mumbai Indians at Eden Gardens on Wednesday.
Before that, the event will open to a glittering ceremony where Bollywood superstars Hrithik Roshan, Shahid Kapoor and Anushka Sharma form a power-packed line-up of performers. The melting pot that it is, the opening match itself features two players, who aggressively faced off as recently as in the World Cup last month, playing together in one team.
David Warner and Shikhar Dhawan will share the dressing room (Sunrisers Hyderabad) putting behind their spat in Australia recently. As the international rivals become friends, there will be some who will be hungry for success as the tournament provides an ideal launchpad ahead of next year's World Twenty20 in India around the same time. There will be some veteran Indian warhorses with the likes of Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh and Zaheer Khan among others, who will see this as a final chance to make a comeback to the national side.
The Indian selectors might think otherwise, but the IPL teams clearly believe the 33-year-old Yuvraj still has the fire in his belly as he was bought for a record Rs 16 crore by Delhi Daredevils after intense bidding among four franchises.
This had happened on the back of his three successive Ranji Trophy centuries which were not enough for him to make the World Cup cut. But the player of the tournament in India's 2011 World Cup triumph is not the one to give up and would be among the ones to watch out for this season.
"It's been a couple of hard years for me since I have come back from my treatment. I have worked very hard and I have had a good domestic season. I am confident of doing well and hope that things get better from here," the dashing left-hander has said. In fact, Yuvraj would be the key to the success for the Delhi Daredevils, who finished bottom of the table in the last two seasons.
Rajeev Shukla returns as chairman
Congress Member of Parliament Rajeev Shukla was appointed the new chairman of the Indian Premier League (IPL) Governing Council on Monday, a Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) release said.
Shukla resigned from the post of IPL chairman in June, 2013, following a scandal over corruption and spot-fixing in the tournament.
Shukla, a former senior vice-president of the BCCI, had lost in the recent Board election. He had contested for the position of the treasurer and lost to Anirudh Chaudhary.
He replaces Ranjib Biswal who was the interim chairman of the council. Biswal conducted the 2014 IPL in collaboration with former India captain Sunil Gavaskar, who was appointed as the BCCI interim president by the Supreme Court of India.
CCTV cameras monitoring round-the-clock, strict vigil on movement around players' dressing rooms with hundreds of cops posted in and around the stadium -- the city police have put in place elaborate security arrangements for the eighth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL).
"We have made elaborate security arraignments for IPL. Besides deploying security personnel at team hotels, more than 5,000 cops would be stationed in and around the stadium during the matches," joint commissioner of police Rajiv Mishra said.
Mishra said 12 teams of police personnel, each headed by a divisional officer, will be positioned inside as well as outside the stadium.
"Besides installing CCTV cameras across the stadium, nine watch towers have been put up at strategic locations," said Mishra.
Following the arrest of six persons allegedly involved in an inter-state cricket betting racket from the city earlier this month, the police were also on guard conducting searches to tackle the menace.
Besides seven league games, the Eden will host the final match. The ground may also host a qualifier/eliminator depending upon the home team Kolkata Knight Riders' progress to the knockouts of the tournament.