Friday, April 18, 2008

IPL Begins With a Bang

The IPL (Indian Premier League) began with a glamorous opening ceremony that contained fabulous fireworks, but the real fireworks came from Brendon McCullen who hammered Twenty20 cricket's highest ever score, an unbeaten 158, as Kolkata Knight Riders thrashed Bangalore Royal Challengers by 140 runs in the opening Indian Premier League (IPL) match here on Friday night.

McCullum was adjudged the Man of the Match for his breathtaking innings, during which he cracked 10 boundaries and 13 sixes in front of a boisterous crowd at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. Also present to cheer teams were their owners - Vijay Mallya of the United Breweries group for the home team and Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan for the Koklata squad.

The IPL has brought together some of the fiercest players from the world over. It was, for instance, unimaginable to have Ganguly and Ponting, who have contested many a battle for their countries and also the 2003 World Cup final, hug and embrace each other when Bangalore batted.

The 45-day tournament will have 59 matches, with the final slated for June 1 in Mumbai.

IPL : the verdict

The contest

The players cared all right. It took Zaheer Khan only one ball to give Brendon McCullum the glare. When Ashley Noffke had figures of 0.1-0-11-0 he looked like he wanted the ground to swallow him up.

The support

The stadium was packed, but the biggest cheer was when Sachin Tendulkar signed a declaration affirming the MCC's spirit of cricket.

The glitz

Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan, owner of the Kolkata franchise, was joined in the crowd by fellow actor Preity Zinta, co-owner of Mohali. Washington Redskins cheerleaders danced; Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, Bollywood music directors, sang.

The conclusion

Could hardly have been better. The opening ceremony and McCullum's innings will be talked about for years.The Gentleman's game has got a complete makeover with IPL.

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