It's all hard work and little play for the IPL's cheerleaders

They fill your TV screens with their high-kick routine, root with you when a six is scored or a wicket falls and inject the game with an undeniable glamour quotient. This purely American phenomenon of cheerleaders has come to stay in the Indian Premiere League.

In a nation where cricket is a religion and cricketers demigods, one doesn't really need cheerleaders to sell the game. But who cares as long as it is good, clean fun. However, an unsavoury side to the profession was brought to light when a Mumbai Indian cheerleader Gabriella Pasqualotto levelled charges of misbehaviour against certain South African and Australian players during the IPL post-match parties.

Gabriella first tweeted her impression, and later at the insistence of a website, she blogged her experiences. And it was damning. She spoke of being treated as a “piece of meat” and charged that some cricketers were “mischievous and loose” and that cheerleaders are often treated as no more than sex objects. She named a few cricketers as men with a roving eye.

The blogs have rankled with the IPL and BCCI rubbishing the charges. Gabriella was sent home where she has become a kind of celebrity. She then hit back saying she was targeted for speaking her mind.

Today, post-match parties are held discreetly unlike their loud avatars of the past. A few are organised with select guests by the franchisees at their own discretion. For instance, Vijay Mallya, boss of the Royal Challengers Bangalore, recently hosted Chris Gayle at his villa in Goa.

Incidentally, RCB has the most popular cheerleading team called ‘White Mischief Gals'. “We have attended a few parties and we have not comes across any unpleasant situation,” said the White Mischief girls. They also claim that the rigorous schedule of training and travelling from one match to the next leaves them with little time to hit the party scene in a big way.

“We are all professionals, enjoy what we are doing and we are appreciated for that. The other day, we walked down M.G. Road and quite a few people came up to us and said how much they enjoyed watching us perform. We are enjoying our stay and would love to come back again,” said one of the girls. And she put paid to Gabriella's charges with a pithy one-liner: “If she thought it was such a bad scene, why did she attend it in the first place?”

Keywords: IPL 2011

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