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Here come the warriors

The Telugu Warriors franchisee of the Celebrity Cricket League, led by captain Venkatesh. Photo: Nagara Gopal   | Photo Credit: NAGARA GOPAL

Over the last few days, Venkatesh, Vishnu, Tarun, Siddharth, Srikanth, Aadarsh Balakrishnan and others have been sweating it out, braving the heat and humidity, fine tuning their batting, bowling and fielding skills. There are no spot lights, no makeup men and errand boys here. Leaving their glamorous self aside, the actors have been rouging it out, guided by coach Vanka Pratap.

When they take on the Chennai Rhinos team on the inaugural day (June 4) of the first season of the Celebrity Cricket League (CCL) at Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore, they want to leave nothing to chance. These actors who're passionate about cricket have taken this opportunity to get that professional edge.

“You can expect them to play like domestic level cricketers. The teams have been taking the help of physiotherapists to work on their fitness levels,” informs Vishnu Induri, the founder and co-owner, CCL.

When the idea of a celebrity league was mooted a year ago, not many could envision what was in store. “We've been conducting celebrity cricket matches for Movie Artistes Association for the last seven years. During the live telecast of the June 2010 celebrity match, we observed the high television ratings in the interiors of the state, which was nearly double that of any international match. We realised the potential of drawing eyeballs when stars are playing cricket and thought of a league similar to the IPL,” says Vishnu Induri.

The Telugu Warriors team, from what we hear, has its share of good batsmen, spin and pace bowlers and agile fielders. Actors Srikanth and Tarun who've been playing cricket for more than a decade have been sharing a lot of tips with the team members.

Aadarsh is among the key players. He has played in state level matches with Ambati Rayudu, Tirumalasetti Suman and Pragyan Ojha and made his acting debut in Nagesh Kukunoor's Iqbal thanks to his cricketing skills. Excited about the league matches, the all-rounder shares, “We've moved from net sessions to practice match mode. We are improving our fielding. I've been playing cricket since school days and played for my college and then at the state level. My next film also focuses on cricket. This league will be different and I am looking forward to meeting colleagues from the other industries. Salman Khan, Suriya and Suniel Shetty are big names I look up to.”

The CCL is poised to be an annual feature with new teams being added to the list. “There is pressure to include teams from the Marathi, Bhojpuri, Punjabi and Malayalam film industries. We'd like to add two teams each year. Film industries from Pakistan and Sri Lanka have also shown interest,” says Vishnu Induri.

Captain speak

Actor Venkatesh, who impressed with match-winning shots during the promotional match on March 5 at Vizag, prefers to be captain cool. “I keep telling the boys not to enjoy the game and the chance to interact with stars from the other industries. The 20:20 format can throw up surprises for even the best of international cricketers and it's better not to get too worked up,” he says. He is full of appreciation for the talented team. Venkatesh himself has been playing cricket since college days. Reflecting on the March 5 match where he was declared man of the match, he says with humility, “That was my lucky day where I had a steady innings. I think there are better players in the team.”

The Karnataka captain Sudeep, we hear, has laid down strict instructions to his team to avoid smoking, alcohol and late nights. Venkatesh smiles, “I haven't laid down rules. I want all of us to enjoy the tournament.” The teams

The teams

Salman Khan (captain)

Telugu Warriors:

Venkatesh (captain)

Chennai Rhinos:

Suriya (captain)

Karnataka Bulldozers:

Sudeep (captain)

Telugu Warriors

Telugu Warriors

The final list of the 16-member squad is yet to be revealed. Among the team members are Siddharth, Tarun, Srikanth, Tarakaratna, Aadarsh, Nitin, Qaiyum, Ajay, Ayyappa, Samrat and Rajeev Kanakala.

Schedule

June 4, Bangalore

3 p.m. – Chennai Rhinos Vs. Telugu Warriors

7 p.m. – Karnataka Bulldozers Vs. Mumbai Heroes

June 5, Chennai

1 p.m. - Karnataka Bulldozers Vs. Chennai Rhinos

5 p.m. – Telugu Warriors Vs. Mumbai Heroes

June 11, Vishakapatnam

3 p.m. Karnataka Bulldozers Vs. Telugu Warriors

7 p.m. Chennai Rhinos Vs. Mumbai Heroes

Finals: June 12, Hyderabad

Highlights: Commentary in English, Hindi and regional languages, involvement of professional umpires, use of LED screens for scoreboard, third umpire results, entertainment interludes, actresses cheering the teams and glitzy after-parties. Shriya and Priyamani are likely to the brand ambassadors of the league while Tapsee will be cheering the Telugu Warriors.


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Printable version | Oct 19, 2021 8:38:22 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/here-come-the-warriors/article2067889.ece

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