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Rakhi Sawant coming to HIT "ICL 2 Twenty20 tournament"

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Old 12-13-2008, 01:29 PM
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Default Rakhi Sawant coming to HIT "ICL 2 Twenty20 tournament"

The second season of Indian Cricket League (ICL) Twenty20 tournament kicked off with a grandiose opening gala on October 10 night. It was a resplendent blend of sound and light as curtains went up for the ICL T20s Championship at the Lal Bahadur Stadium, much in tune with the equally exciting cricket clashes expected in the coming days.

Around 20,000 spectators were treated with an eye-catching show, connected with the theme Cricket Hai Meri Life. The fans were treated to a short but feet stomping performance by Queen cheerleader Rakhi Sawant and her group.

Starting off with a dazzling laser show intermingled with a stunning performance by around 200 drummers, the atmosphere turned electric when leading choreographer Shaimak Davar's group came up with a gripping performance. A 'meaningful' start with 'Break The Rules' song set the tempo for the night and what followed was a 60 minute display of high octane entertainment.

Kapil Dev, executive board chairman, ICL, Subhash Chandra, chairman, Essel Group, and Chandrababu Naidu, former chief minister, Andhra Pradesh, among others graced the occasion. The trio later declared the tournament open by lighting the torch.

A martial art display by Japanese youth, fire show by European artists and breathtaking trampoline jumps stood out for their perfect execution and finesse. Children stole the show with their captivating feet movements against the backdrop of rattling music.

More hue treated the packed crowd when the teams trooped in their dazzling team attire behind the team flags and led by their respective captains. Huge applause greeted a dynamic show by an aerialist attached to a huge balloon floating in the air even as some players reached out their hands to touch her while others were busy taking snaps.

The g****vine has it that the second season of ICL will be much more excitement then ever before in the coming days. "We have planned something very interesting and innovative around the concept of cheerleaders for the ICL tournament for the present season, and the coming tournaments will witness the extravagance." said Shariq Patel, senior vice-president, operations and marketing, ICL.

For the uninitiated, it was ICL that pioneered the entire idea of the T20 format, having teams on the lines of English Premiere League (EPL). However, due to its hype and star power, the IPL (Indian Premier league) swept the first round of the face - off. Now it seems that Subhash Chandra's ICL is in no mood to be rated as a second grade cricketing tournament as branded by BCCI.

As a matter of fact, ICL had geared up to confront the BCCI's apple eye IPL and rolled up a marketing campaign, investing a whopping Rs 50 crore, which is three times to that of the previous year. The campaign has created a huge buzz around the brand ICL, just when every one thought that ICL did the disappearing act.

To counter the stellar creatives that IPL had come out with, ICL has DraftFCB-Ulka as its creative agency, which has devised the Cricket Hai Meri Life campaign in August. The campaign hit the television screens last month and has received an equal support from other media avenues such as outdoors, radio, Internet et al.

To give itself a distinguishing edge, ICL's communication strategy initially focused on the players. This was in-line to ICL's core idea of nurturing local talent and helping the sport in the country. Apart from the multi-million dollar multi-media campaign, ICL has taken a lot of ground promotional initiatives to connect with the audience at a deeper level. The ICL has a prize money corpus of Rs 13.72 crore for its second season.

For instance, in July 2008, it has launched the Youth Mobilisation initiative. The idea behind this was to support various youth ventures like intercollegiate festivals, events, workshops, seminars, et al in association with various educational institutions across the country. This allowed the cricketing body to connect its brand with the youth of the nation.

"ICL is a brand that has given young Indian cricketers the platform to perform. We are extending that identity to all segments of youth. We want to be associated with college related sports events like marathons. We have also sent our coaches and players to interact with them to inspire them. The idea was to promote sports and ICL as a way of life by increasing the youth involvement," explains Patel.

Connecting with the audiences with the help of initiatives like these, has actually help to gain a wider acceptance. ICL also expanded its Bollywood party and got some more blitzing star to add glamour. And it's not just the stars from tinsel town, but even the blue-eyed boys of corporate India who are also in talks with ICL to pick up a stake in various teams. This may happen by next year as the valuations are still to be agreed upon in order to finalise the deals.

According to the industry experts, a lot of advertisers are advertising with ICL, as it has broken the clutter during the festive season. Another interesting fact is that a lot of regional advertisers are showing increasing interest in ICL as the game is connecting strongly at the regional level with celebrities like Vishnu Manchu and Mithun Chakraborty on board. A hoard of regional advertisers from states like Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Punjab are the clients of ICL.

Adds Patel confidently, "A good thing in favour of ICL is that the rate card to advertise is pretty low as compared to IPL or other international matches, this has generated a lot of interest among advertisers as they have stroked valuable bulk deals."

ICL has already roped in brands such as Manikchand Oxyrich, Luminous, Telenor a Pakistan based company and Provogue. Timesjob , Magicbrick, Future Group, LG, Hero Honda, Max NewYork Life Insurance as sponsors. The air-time ad rates for ICL is estimated to be Rs 1.25 lakh per 10 second which is a 200 per cent increase from last year.

Apart from marketing and advertising, ICL has also succeeded in tying up with more stadiums. It has entered an agreement with Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) for the Navrangpura Sardar Patel Stadium, under which ICL is spending Rs10 crore in upgrading the stadium over a 10 years period, during which it can use the stadium for the ICL matches.

So can ICL attract the audience and create a buzz like the bigger version, IPL? Madison Media Plus' Chowdhuri answers, "It's a good game, it will get viewers, but would it be as sticky as IPL? I don't think so, I don't think that ICL can ever reach the IPL heights."

But V. Krishnaswamy, sports commentator, feels otherwise, "At the end of the day, it's cricket and Indian people love cricket, they will watch ICL. I see no reason why ICL will not succeed."

Harish Krishnamachar, vice-resident, World Sports Group - South Asia, avers "In my assessment ICL has done pretty well so far. If you watched the game in Hyderabad or Panchkula, you would agree to it."

However, the biggest challenge for the ICL rebellion still remains BCCI. The board has continued with its pursuit to stop ICL and the people who are joining it. Subhash Chandra had a meeting with David Morgan, president, ICC, the custodians of the game, as to what is so not official about them?

On the BCCI rebel tag, Himanshu Mody, business head, ICL, who was present at the meeting in London said, "The outcome of the meeting was positive. Very soon Morgan will present our case in front of the ICC board which meets in Dubai. We are also taking legal opinion, and some suits are already pending in the court. But we will continue doing what we have to, and nothing can stop us."

When we quizzed Sunder Raman, CEO, IPL, on ICL plans and expected audience response, he replied, "I don't know what they are doing. I have no clue about what anybody else is doing."

Well, it is clear that ICL has proved the naysayers wrong, who commented that it won't last even a couple of tournaments, it is back with its new tournament and with a vengeance. Will ICL be able to sustain this increasing interest? Only cricket and the end of November will tell.
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