Bradman Cup begins today

K.C. Vijaya Kumar

BANGALORE: Adrenaline is all set to be sprinkled across the Chinnaswamy Stadium turf as India's maiden Twenty20 cricket tournament will be unveiled here on Friday.

The `Unibic 20-20 Bradman Cup' tournament, featuring six teams and seven matches spread over the weekend, will give the Indian fan, a first-hand experience of 20-20. The teams have been split into two zones and the top teams will clash in the final on Sunday night.

Amidst the fun and the frenzy, the arclights will hover around the Bradman World XI that will feature a bevy of International stars — past and present. England's Adam Hollioake will lead the team and his support-staff will be culled from the likes of Russel Arnold, Upul Chandana, Romesh Kaluwitharana, Ferveez Maharoof, Mohammed Sami, Shoaib Malik, Kamran Akmal and Salman Butt. Retired cricketer-turned-commentator Dean Jones is also part of the World XI while the team's Indian touch will be provided by Javagal Srinath and M.S. Dhoni.

Launch function

The World XI had an informal meeting with the media here on Thursday afternoon as part of the tournament launch function. "It is an exciting format and 20-20 has its own charm. It is heavily loaded in favour of the batsmen," Hollioake said while Sami expressed optimism over the fate of bowlers and said, "I have played a few games in England and I believe that if you stick to the basics, bowlers too can leave an impact."

The World XI is clubbed alongside Chemplast and KSCA XI in Zone A. Chemplast will have L. Balaji leading the attack while a clutch of players ranging from Hemang Badani to Sanjay Bangar, who are chasing their National comeback dreams, will also lend strength to the side.

Host KSCA has opted to field a team with an accent on youth. Barrington Rowland will lead the team and he along with other players have tasted some success in the recent KSCA Colts tour of Australia.

In Zone B, New South Wales (NSW) spearheaded by left-arm seamer Nathan Bracken will lend an International flavour.

The other two teams in the `B' Zone — Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) and Air India — will ride piggyback on hope. Air India, which recently defeated NSW in the MRF Trophy tournament, will hope for an encore when the teams clash on Friday evening.

Led by Suresh Raina and bolstered with the presence of J.P. Yadav, S. Sriram and Dinesh Kaarthick, Air India cannot be grudged its flights of fancy.

Meanwhile CAB's fortunes will revolve around skipper Deep Dasgupta, Arindam Das, Rohan Gavaskar, S.S. Paul and Ranadeb Bose.

Corporate support

The organisers are banking on corporate customers to fill up the stands.

Twenty20, being a new concept to the Indian shores, will take its time to strike roots. Cricket's latest offshoot, nurtured in England to lure crowds that swayed to football, may have its critics. But then when Kerry Packer unleashed day-and-night one-day matches with the World Series, the game was derisively labelled as `pyjama cricket'.

Today one-dayers are the commercial backbone of cricket. May be one day, 20-20 will find its own niche segment.

Until then the six teams in the fray here will hope that their cookies don't crumble in a tournament sponsored by Unibic, a leading Australian biscuit manufacturer.

The schedule:

Aug. 19: CAB vs Air India, NSW vs Air India, KSCA XI vs Bradman World XI; Aug. 20: NSW vs CAB, Bradman World XI vs Chemplast; Aug. 21: KSCA XI vs Chemplast, final: Top `A' zone team vs top B' zone team.