A galaxy of stars, including Amitabh Bachchan and American pop star Katy Perry, will set the ball rolling for the fifth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) with a glittering opening ceremony that promises to enthral the audience here on Tuesday. High-octane Twenty20 cricket will get underway on April 4, promising excitement and entertainment for the audience in the next 54 days when nine teams featuring international stars and unheralded players will be competing.
Having proved its success in the past four editions with growing popularity, the Indian cricket board's money-spinning event will formally be launched with the IPL Opening Nite. The dazzling show will be graced by Bachchan and other Bollywood stars, including Priyanka Chopra, Kareena Kapoor and Salman Khan.
The gala ceremony at the YMCA College of Physical Education would also feature all the nine team captains taking the MCC Spirit of Cricket pledge. Although very little information has been shared on the opening ceremony, whose tickets start from Rs. 1,500, the evening is expected to provide a sumptuous feast of dance and music for the fans with Perry set to perform for the first time in India during the show, which will also have India's dancing sensation Prabhudeva.
The tournament proper will kick off on April 4 with the holders Chennai Super Kings taking on the last year Champions League Twenty20 winners Mumbai Indians in the inaugural match at the MA Chidambaram stadium. Mumbai captain Sachin Tendulkar will play for the first time before home fans after achieving the feat of 100 international centuries in the Asia Cup.
A total of 76 matches will be played at 12 venues across the country in the run-up to the finals on May 27 here. The league stage will comprise 72 ties with each team playing the other eight in a home-and-away format. The play-offs would be hosted by Bangalore and Chennai, the finalists from the previous edition.
The edition has been reduced to a nine-team affair after last-year entrants Kochi Tuskers Kerala were terminated by the BCCI in September last for a breach of terms of agreement. Expectedly, not many are daring to hazard a guess on the favourites to win the coveted trophy, though the MS Dhoni-led Chennai and Mumbai are in the forefront.