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A promising start to the first edition of Andhra Premier League T-20 cricket championship

Captains of the six APL teams posing with the trophies at ACA VDCA Stadium during the inauguration in Visakhapatnam

Captains of the six APL teams posing with the trophies at ACA VDCA Stadium during the inauguration in Visakhapatnam | Photo Credit: K R Deepak

It will be a different kind of monsoon magic for the cricket lovers of the City of Destiny in the ongoing inaugural edition of the Shreeram Group-sponsored Andhra Premier League (APL) T-20 cricket championship featuring six franchisees.

For Andhra Cricket Association and the Visakhapatnam District Cricket Association which have won all-round appreciation for the successful conduct of international fixtures over the last few years, this APL can well be another feather in the cap.

The APL is conceptualised with the intent of providing a chance for the average fan of the high-profile Indian Premier League to see the domestic talent available and also give the young talent a feel of what it means to play in coloured clothing and white balls.

Young cricketers cheering during the first edition of the Andhra Premier League (APL)  at ACA VDCA stadium in Visakhapatnam

Young cricketers cheering during the first edition of the Andhra Premier League (APL) at ACA VDCA stadium in Visakhapatnam | Photo Credit: KR Deepak

Not surprisingly, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has given the go-ahead to its affiliated unit, ACA, to host the event. For the record, the six franchisees — Uttarandhra Lions of KVR Estates, Rayalaseema Kings of Dasaradharam Reddy, Godavari Titans of Malvin Global Energy, Coastal Riders of Surya Granites, Bezwada Tigers of Andhra Hospitals and Vizag Warriors of Pulsus Group — will vie for top honours.

With former Andhra Ranji cricketers Sathyaprasad Yachendra, heading the Governing Council of the APL, and the other members including R V Ch Prasad, former Ranji captain, G V V Gopala Raju as members, the cricketers and the officials involved in the conduct may not have any scope for complaints.

K V Sasikanth of Marlin Godavari Titans, playing a shot ( 55 not out) during the first edition of the Andhra Premier League (APL) against Coastal Riders at ACA VDCA stadium in Visakhapatnam

K V Sasikanth of Marlin Godavari Titans, playing a shot ( 55 not out) during the first edition of the Andhra Premier League (APL) against Coastal Riders at ACA VDCA stadium in Visakhapatnam | Photo Credit: K R Deepak

For someone who played the game when there were no proper training facilities and these kinds of leagues were not even a distant dream, they know exactly what the players, administrators and the fans look for.

That six teams with 20 players each were picked from the auction comprising about 400 players itself is proof, if needed, that the ACA has done its homework pretty well in terms of extending an opportunity for the young and the experienced cricketers to be in contention.

There has been a conscious effort to have the format too on the lines of the IPL — six teams will compete against one another in a single round-robin style during the league stage, with the top four teams moving on to the playoff rounds.

Dark clouds posing a threat to the first edition of the Andhra Premier League (APL) at ACA VDCA stadium in Visakhapatnam

Dark clouds posing a threat to the first edition of the Andhra Premier League (APL) at ACA VDCA stadium in Visakhapatnam | Photo Credit: K R Deepak

“The League is not just about money. It is essentially a platform especially for the young talent to showcase their skills. With IPL being the biggest showpiece in domestic cricket for obvious reasons, we felt it is imperative to have the APL which should help us in tapping young talent and grooming it into world-class players,” says Sathyaprasad Yachendra.

“APL is not just for men. We have also organised the first edition of APL for women in Vizianagaram as the sport has gone to the next level in the recent past thanks to the exploits of the Indian women’s cricket team. We are pleased at the increasing number of girls taking up cricket,” he says.

Andhra Cricket Association President Sarat Chandra Reddy releasing the balloons during the inauguration of the first edition of the Andhra Premier League (APL) at ACA VDCA stadium in Visakhapatnam

Andhra Cricket Association President Sarat Chandra Reddy releasing the balloons during the inauguration of the first edition of the Andhra Premier League (APL) at ACA VDCA stadium in Visakhapatnam | Photo Credit: K R Deepak

“We have been planning this APL for a long time but the pandemic put brakes on the event. So, this year, Sarat Chandra Reddy (ACA President) insisted that it should be held and be a grand success,” says Sathyaprasad, adding that it is a complete team effort on behalf of the Governing Council and the entire ACA to put things in place. “It will be a regular event in ACA calendar in future,” he says.

And, interestingly, it is not a one-way process of only the players and the ACA getting benefitted. Even the sponsors can look back with a sense of pride as the League gives them a scope to make financial gains.

Munish Varma of Coastal A DJ performing during the first edition of the Andhra Premier League (APL) at ACA VDCA stadium in Visakhapatnam

Munish Varma of Coastal A DJ performing during the first edition of the Andhra Premier League (APL) at ACA VDCA stadium in Visakhapatnam | Photo Credit: K R Deepak

Like many such Leagues, the APL too gives a huge opportunity for the young cricketers to rub shoulders with some of the big names of Andhra cricket including Indian star and wicketkeeper-batsman K Srikar Bharat, Ricky Bhui, Ashwin Hebbar who will be playing for their respective franchisees.

“We believe the youngsters getting a feel of being out there in a League would inspire them to move to the next grade,” Sathyaprasad.

With Star Sports telecasting the matches, the excitement amongst the players, officials and the fans is understandable. “We are grateful to all the six franchisees for buying the teams for three years and not just one season,” the Governing Council chairperson says.

Significantly, the coaches of all the teams will be keeping a tab on the performances and preparing notes to help the young talent look far beyond.

“Definitely, it would have been great if we had this League in our playing days. But, in a way we are trying to ensure that the current generation of cricketers is getting what we missed then,” he says.

By all means, the APL is going to be a crowd-puller, weather-permitting.


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Printable version | Jul 13, 2022 2:03:56 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/a-promising-start-to-the-first-edition-of-andhra-premier-league-t-20-cricket-championship/article65610550.ece