Show set to go on, minus the big boys

Show set to go on, minus the big boys

Last year’s runners-up Belagaavi Panthers take on Malnad Gladiators in an afternoon match, which will be followed by the one involving inaugural champions Provident Bangalore and Bijapur Bulls under lights.

For any sporting event to attract eyeballs, you need an ensemble of star players. The need is more so in a tournament like the KPL, essentially a league of local heroes. The event will sorely miss some of the popular names this year.

With the Champions League T20 on in South Africa, explosive batsmen Robin Uthappa (Bangalore Brigadiers) and Manish Pandey (Panthers), pacemen R Vinay Kumar (Panthers) and A Mithun (Gladiators) and Provident skipper B Akhil are away doing duty for Royal Challengers Bangalore. And if the Anil Kumble-led side goes all the way, then it’s unlikely any of these players will feature in this edition of the KPL.

Saying that, it’s a good opportunity for emerging stars to bask in the limelight. Big crowds, live coverage and playing under lights was a whole a new experience for most youngsters last time around, but it was clear that they were enjoying the atmosphere and the attention.    

While the hurriedly-arranged tournament met with more than reasonable success in terms of crowd attendance, it remains to be seen if the second edition surpasses the interest shown by the public in the first year, or for that matter even match it.
Glitzy team-launch ceremonies and several other promotional events had created some kind of buzz around the league in the inaugural year, but the build-up to the event this time around has been remarkably low key.

Of course, there have been some huge hoardings at major hot spots in the city announcing the tournament going ‘pink’. But a few of the franchises are apprehensive about the effects of the pink ball which will be used for the first time in India in officially sanctioned matches. 

While KSCA has termed the introduction of the pink ball as a ‘pioneering’ step, their efforts to take the tournament beyond Bangalore haven’t been successful for reasons ranging from sponsors’ objections to weather conditions.

While matches in Mysore, which was to host semifinals and final, have already been rescheduled to be held in the City, doubts still linger over the fate of the Manipal leg.
Despite these irritants, the tournament is expected to offer some good contests. There is certainly a dearth of big names, but there is also some exciting talent waiting to stamp its class on the biggest stage in the State’s structure. Ganesh Satish, Amit Verma, Rajoo Bhatkal, Sunil Raju, Mayank Agarwal and KL Rahul, among others, will try to assert the power of youth, while the experience of the likes of Sunil Joshi, Thilak Naidu, C Raghu and J Arun Kumar can’t be underestimated.

Manipal decision
The KSCAssociation will take a call on the Manipal matches of the KPL after assessing the situation there on Friday.The Manipal leg, due to begin on September 22, has come under a cloud with rains unrelenting in that part of the State.

“Our curator Narayan Raju and Sudhakar Rao (KSCA assistant secretary) will go to Manipal on Friday and take a decision. We don’t want a wash-out. If the rains don’t stop, the Manipal matches will be held in Bangalore,” said KSCA secretary Brijesh Patel here on Wednesday, after unveiling the new KPL trophy.

Patel said objections over the pink ball had been sorted out. “The ICC is looking ahead at alternatives to the white ball, and pink and orange are the two colours being considered. We want to try pink in match situations and give the feedback to the authorities.
“Yes, Belagaavi Panthers had a few issues with the pink ball but it has been sorted out. We have given them more balls to practice and all the matches will go ahead as scheduled,” Patel added.

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