Overseas stars to miss early encounters

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G. Viswanath

Mumbai: While a packed house at D.Y. Patil Stadium, rated by Britain's The Architect's Journalas the sixth best cricket stadium in the world, is treated to some spectacular entertainment from stars like Lionel Richie, UB 40, ABBA's Bjorn and actor Deepika Padukone, the game's aficionados will have to wait till the first week of April for the contests in the Indian Premier League III to truly appeal to them.

A majority of the high-end overseas players will not be in action at the beginning because of international commitments. Australian and New Zealand stars may miss as many as seven matches because the second Test between these two nations ends only on March 31. Delhi Daredevils (DD) and Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) will not even have the services of their coaches, Greg Shipperd and Tom Moody for a few matches.

Call for ‘clear window'

While IPL Chairman and Commissioner Lalit Modi is pleased with the ‘natural window' for the event, with a unique feature of player turnover in the course of the seven-week competition, a number of players including Rajasthan Royals' skipper Shane Warne have felt the need for a ‘clear window' for the multi-billion dollar event.

Ray Jennings, coach of Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), is the latest to join the clear window bandwagon. He has said on the RCB website that unity can be brought about only if the team members spend a longer time together before the start of any tournament. While there's an upsurge seeking a specific time-frame for the IPL, the ICC's 2012-2020 Future Tour Programme (FTP) is unlikely to provide it the luxury. “None” was Modi's response when asked about the possibility of the FTP giving the IPL the scope for a clear window.

The absence of overseas players is bound to affect the fortunes of the teams that depend on Australian and New Zealand players. Shane Watson, Simon Katich, Daniel Vettori and Scott Styris do not figure in the squad announced by the franchises on February 12. The New Zealand-Australia series ends on March 31, the Bangladesh-England series on March 24 and the West Indies-Zimbabwe series on March 14. Until then the show will go on with a large group of home talents, South Africans and Sri Lankans.

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