Stars of Chennai Rhinos gear up for the fourth edition of Celebrity Cricket League

This is that time of year when stars take their minds off films and focus on cricket — they gear up to play in the Celebrity Cricket League (CCL). Ever since the tournament began four years ago, its profile has steadily grown as the star participation has increased. This year’s edition was kicked off by none other than batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar, who was the chief guest for the inaugural ceremony of CCL 4 held in Mumbai recently. If everything goes well, Sachin might be present to watch the opening game of the tournament between Chennai Rhinos and Mumbai Heroes, tentatively scheduled on January 25.

The captain of Chennai Rhinos, Vishal Krishna, says practice sessions have already begun. “It’s been three weeks since we started our net sessions. We have managed to play at least three practice games a week with league teams,” says Vishal, who was present with his team for the inaugural.

Driven by passion

When asked how difficult has it been to sort out actors’ busy calendars, Vishal insisted that the actors such as him are involved because they are driven by the passion for the game. “We don’t need to coax anyone to be part of it. They have managed to squeeze in time for this because they love it,” he says.

The Chennai Rhinos team has been one of the most successful teams in the league. After winning the first two editions and reaching the semi-finals last year, the team is expected to do well in this years’ edition as well. Are there any changes to the team that played last year? “No major changes,” Vishal informs, and adds, “A lot of actors have shown interest. The trials are still on.”

Which among the eight teams is the one to beat? “It is always the Karnataka Bulldozers. This particular game is played with almost unmatched ferocity every year,” he says.

Nobody could be happier with the results notched up by Chennai Rhinos than its director Srikanth Babu. “We have roped in Trisha Krishnan as the brand ambassador for the team. The team has received excellent support from the Tamil film industry,” he says. This time around, Srikanth says that the Chennai Rhinos team will also support charity initiatives.

How has the response been from marquee stars in the Tamil film industry? “Dhanush was very keen on being a part of the team. But, unfortunately, he couldn’t make it,” he says.

The power of eight

The month-long tournament will see participation of eight teams representing the eight film industries. Chennai Rhinos is Pool B along with Veer Marathi, Telugu Warriors and Bengal Tigers. The other teams namely Karnataka Bulldozers, Kerala Strikers, Mumbai Heroes and Bhojpuri Dabanggs are slotted under Pool A. The top two teams of each group will play in the semi-finals.

The matches will be held in cities such as Dubai, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Ranchi, Kochi and Cuttack. The finals will be held in Hyderabad.