In an attempt to promote the popularity of the Indian Premier League among the Indian crowd in the western part of the world, Rising Pune Supergiants, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Mumbai Indians will be involving themselves in exhibition matches which will be played in the United States of America.
According to a report, the three IPL teams have expressed the will to play matches in the country as an effort to popularize the League, where there is a significant number of Indians and other South Asian nationals residing.
The effort of this initiative will surely turn out to be a crowd attraction because of the offer of high celebrity quotients of the Indian test skipper Virat Kohli and ODI Skipper MS Dhoni of the Indian cricket team playing against each other.
“The matter is expected to be discussed at the IPL Governing Council in Bengaluru before start of the final match tomorrow. The venue is tentatively Houston,” a BCCI official was quoted as saying.
According to the report, Houston is one of the centres which will be preferred for the consideration of these matches.
“Houston is one centre that has been zeroed in as it having multiple centres will be a case of logistical nightmare for a short trip of exhibition matches. It would be an opportunity for the BCCI to test waters in the international market, especially in the US, which has been untapped so far.”
In a country like the United States, T20 format of cricket is the only game under the cricketing roof that can be marketed because of its not so long duration.
“If we have to squeeze in a Mini-IPL next year, this is the appropriate time to send the popular franchises like MI, RCB and check what’s response of NRIs and Indian diaspora.”
“If the response is good, we can think about expansion. We can also harbour hopes that sponsorship market in the US will open up.”
A T20 league, especially for the Indians living abroad, could be an exciting prospect, as it was seen in the All-Stars cricket tournament which was held last year in the US. The two teams, led by legends Sachin Tendulkar and Shane Warne, had several stars like Kumar Sangakkara, Sourav Ganguly, Virender Sehwag, Ricky Ponting and Wasim Akram.
In 2014, the first half of the IPL held in the UAE at three different stadiums also garnered a good response from cricket fans in the Middle-East.