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IPL desk in Mumbai 29 March 2012 - 12:30pm IST

Play hard, play fair: Big B

Bachchan Sr. excited to share stage with IPL captains

With IPL 2012 just a shout away, the biggest celebrities get set to take the stage on the Opening Nite on April 3. This year, the biggest star of them all, the legendary Amitabh Bachchan kicks off festivities. We asked the icon what he feels about the IPL phenomenon. Take a look.

We know you’re a cricket enthusiast, as is Abhishek, your son, whom we’ve often seen supporting India at cricket matches. What does IPL mean to you?

Cricket and India share an eternal bond; it’s a relationship that runs deep and evokes strong emotions. It is a matter of pride that the nation’s cricketing talent at the domestic and international level is channelled by the IPL. Like the international football leagues have formed fierce loyalties over the years, our own cricket league is a tournament that befits the love Indians feel for the game. IPL celebrates cricket while imbuing it with a uniquely Indian flavour.

Who do you think are favourites to win IPL 2012?

T20 is an unpredictable game. There are no minnows or favourites – each game scripts its own story, without the baggage of history or expectation. It’s the spontaneity that makes IPL a compelling tournament. I am just going to enjoy the ride over the next two months.

You are an icon for millions across the world. Who does Amitabh, the icon, fancy watching?

I am no icon, but yes those that play the game of cricket certainly are. They are all masters and represent their nation. I admire and like to watch all the games, for there are many distinguished and talented players in each team – from India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Australia, South Africa, West Indies, England. But I must admit, it’s difficult at times to think beyond Sachin when he is in a competition. Even after all these years, he still attempts to reinvent himself. Of late, Virat has been most inspiring.

They’re all great talents to watch and most entertaining.

The nine IPL captains who will take the MCC Spirit of Cricket pledge are huge fans of yours. Among these are Indian icons Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni, Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag and Sourav Ganguly. You tweeted that it’d be an honour to stand beside them at the IPL Opening Nite. Your thoughts?

It is indeed an honour. These are cricketers who’ve brought, and continue to bring, glory to the nation. The hopes, dreams, even moods, of a billion people rest on their able shoulders. It is a humbling experience for me to share the stage with this galaxy of talent, with a list of glorious achievements behind and ahead of them. From hundred hundreds to a World Cup-win, these heroes have earned it all. To stand amongst them brings me great joy and pride.

Every year at IPL, the captains pledge to play the game as much in its spirit as in keeping with the written laws. PLAY HARD, PLAY FAIR. We have seen that in action over the last few months, whether it is in Ian Bell being recalled after his was declared run out or Ashwin running out Thirimanne, and the batsman being let off in keeping with the game’s spirit.

This year I hope to reach out to the millions of cricket fans in the country in their language. I hope that the fans will appreciate the deeper meaning of this pledge post this event.

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