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The 2012 IPL Opening Nite left the city of Chennai spellbound. At the YMCA ground, an array of glittering stars set the stage on fire and the nine captains pledged their adherence to the Spirit of Cricket. In what was a significant part of the event, BCCI president N Srinivasan announced that a part of the proceedings from this season of IPL will be distributed among various former Indian players who played first-class cricket.
"We have not forgotten who played for us. The BCCI will give a one-time opportunity to cricketers who have graced Indian cricket--international cricketer as well as domestic cricketers who played from a long time. Over 185 players will be benefited from it and we will start the distribution from this year. It is a small ‘thank you’ from us to those who have done yeoman service to Indian cricket," said the president.
Earlier, the night kicked off with Amitabh Bachchan reciting the poem written by Prasoon Joshi especially for the IPL. The Bollywood megastar captivated the audience with the emotion and weight in his voice.
South African percussion band First Project, composer DJ Ravi Drums and Colonial Cousins were the next to grace the stage with a fusion of drum beat and melody. Priyanka Chopra then sizzled with her action-packed performance before giving way to Chennai’s dancing superstar Prabhu Deva.
Priyanka returned on the stage, this time along with the Chennai Super Kings team, who were honoured as the defending champions. She asked some light-hearted questions to skipper MS Dhoni and made Doug Bollinger and R Ashwin dance with her. Next in line was Kareena Kapoor, who set the audience’s pulse racing with her performance on hit song ‘Chammak Challo.’
The captains of the nine IPL teams then gathered on the stage to sign the MCC Spirit of Cricket pledge. Dhoni placed the running trophy on the podium as the captains were joined by BCCI President N Srinivasan and IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla.
Mr. Srinivasan thanked the players for making the IPL a grand success. "IPL has grown from strength to strength and has established itself as a premiere tournament. BCCI is extremely proud of this achievement. But who is the cause, first the commitment of the players both international and domestic, who participated in the event, the enthusiasm of the franchises and assistance of the supporting staff and the cricket fans in India and around the world have contributed to its great success. We expect IPL 5 to be no less.”
Mr. Shukla flagged off the 2012 edition of the league saying, "It gives me a great pleasure to flag off the fifth edition of the DLF Indian Premier League, an arena where quality international and domestic cricketers take part in intense contest of strategy and skill. IPL is a platform where talent meets opportunity."
The night got back to its entertaining best as Bollywood hunk Salman Khan took the stage. He got the crowd into the groove with dance numbers like ‘Dhinka Chika’.
The evening came to an end with the biggest attraction of the event, Katy Perry. The international pop star enthralled the Chennai crowd with her sultry, feet-tapping performance as she danced to her super hit songs like 'Fireworks' and 'California Girls’.
A streak of fireworks marked the end of the ceremony and the start of a yet another dazzling season of DLF IPL.
RR batsman eager to play after recovering from injury
By IPL desk
Jaipur 03 April 2012
After a good showing in the domestic circuit for Rajasthan – before being sidelined due to injury – Ashok Menaria is looking forward to putting up a good performance in IPL 2012. Playing for the Rajasthan Royals, the 21-year-old is keen to make the most of the opportunity that the IPL presents.
"IPL provides a big platform to all the players, and I too wish to perform well this season and get a ticket to the Indian cricket team," Menaria was quoted as saying.
"I'm not aiming for a slot in the Indian team for the upcoming World T20 [in Sri Lanka] but my dream, like all other young cricketers, is to play for the country," he said.
Speaking about his injury status, Menaria said, "It was unfortunate that I was forced out due to my groin strain and had to undergo an operation in Germany in February. But I'm 100 per cent fit now and raring to go.
"Though missing out on matches when I was in good form was unfortunate, I don't feel it was bad luck. In fact, it taught me how to cope with the bad times," he added.
Discussing his batting style, Menaria who scored a double-hundred against the Railways in the Ranji Trophy earlier in the season on a difficult track at the Karnail Singh Stadium, said, "I like to bat in an aggressive manner. My double-hundred also had come in 200 balls. Whatever is the format, I bat in my natural style.
"Even my [Rajasthan Royals] skipper Rahul Dravid has told me to play my natural game," said the southpaw, who idolises Virender Sehwag. Dismissing age as just a number for the senior cricketers in the RR side, Menaria highlighted the experience that they bring into the team.
"[You] just have a look at the averages and strike-rates of the likes of [Brad] Hogg and [Brad] Hodge. [Johan] Botha too has amassed around 2000 runs,” he said.
"I feel we have the best experienced hands with us. [Rahul] Dravid and Shane Warne both are legends of the game and the former has been managing his resources quite well in latter's absence," he added.
"Shane Warne had his own style, but Rahul too motivates his teammates. As far as aggressiveness is considered, Rahul is cool and composed but aggressive in mind," he said about RR’s former and current skippers.
Speaking about RR’s first match of IPL 2012 against Kings XI Punjab on April 6, Menaria said, "The first match is always an important one, and if you win your confidence soars and the body language is different. I am ready to bat at any number as per the game plan of the team. We have played a number of practice matches as those provide more stimulation than nets."
Menaria also believes that the Royals are capable of repeating their feat of claiming the IPL trophy in 2008.
"It is the domestic players who form the nucleus of any team. They [Chennai Super Kings] have a set of best domestic players, which makes them a formidable unit. It is the domestic players who lend more strength to any team in the IPL," he said.