Glamour, glitz and riveting cricket at Mumbai IPL

April 20th, 2008 - 10:58 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Harbhajan Singh

Mumbai, April 20 (IANS) The much-awaited Indian Premier League (IPL) came to the city with oodles of glitz and glamour, as the first match was played here Sunday at the Wankhede Stadium before a capacity crowd. Among the early birds who arrived were Bollywood star Anil Kapoor and former Indian skipper Mohammed Azharuddin. They were mobbed by the media at the entrance and escorted to their seats by the security personnel, present in large numbers.

A Reliance official said that the ‘who’s who of Mumbai” were invited for the match and most of them turned up to witness the mega-event.

The stadium was nearly full at least an hour before the start of the match and huge frenzied crowds outside were seen making last-minute attempts to buy tickets.

A giant square balloon with the Mumbai Indians’ team logo swayed lazily above the stadium in the gentle breeze from the Arabian Sea, barely 100 metres across the stadium.

The organizers distributed attractive blue tee-shirts, the colour of the home team Mumbai Indians, to the VIP guests and media corps and many of them were seen sporting it in the stands. For many, the IPL obviously came like the icing on the cake of a long weekend that ended Sunday.

There was some disappointment in the air as it became clear that batting maestro and local hero Sachin Tendulkar would not be fit to play and Harbhajan Singh stepped in to lead the local team.

Undaunted by Sachin’s absence, most Mumbaikars took it in their stride and ‘celebrated’ in their own individual and collective ways the event in which Mukesh Ambani-owned Mumbai Indians clashed with Vijay Mallya’s Royal Challengers.

Taking no chances with the unpredictable Mumbai traffic, people who had tickets for the match hit the roads well in time.

“We reached here by 6 p.m., two hours before the start and got a parking close by, near Churchgate, barely 300 metres away from the venue,” said Prashant Pai, business head of OneMarch, a human resources consultancy.

Restaurants, resorts, clubs and pubs made extra arrangements to cash in on the IPL frenzy.

The Green Court Club (GCC), a weekend resort on the outskirts of Mumbai, had erected a giant screen on its sprawling lawns to capture the IPL spirit for its patrons. Expecting a larger than usual weekend turnout, the resort management provided extra seating, dining and wining arrangements.

“We showed the match on a giant screen, with chairs and tables placed on the lawns beside the swimming pool so our members and guests could enjoy the match in a good ambience,” GCC managing director Vijay Saini told IANS.

Similar arrangements were in place at the Avenue Restaurant, a classy eatery in upmarket Kandivli and D’Nosh pub in Bandra, according to the owners of these establishments.

In fact, a majority of the people in the city decided to enjoy the match in the cosy confines of their homes, or with friends in restaurants, pubs or clubs.

Several areas in the city were plastered with posters of Mumbai Indians players, promos on the local electronic media and premium rates of tickets added to the build-up of the match.

Reliance head Mukesh Ambani, clad in a white shirt and dark trousers, accompanied by his wife Nita in a printed red Punjabi dress, personally visited the stadium Sunday afternoon and supervised the arrangements. They also interacted with the cricketing officials and some team members.

Sale of tickets for the match, which had started a week back, has evoked a very good response, the organizers said.

Independent reports suggest that the tickets were being black marketed at 100 percent premium hours before the start of the match.

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