A spectacular and vibrant opening ceremony, showcasing a dash of Bollywoood-style entertainment, marked the launch of the fourth edition of the IPL, the Twenty20 extravaganza which has gained immense popularity since its inception.
The evening sky over the M A Chidambaram stadium on Friday lit up with dazzling fireworks as Board of Control for Cricket in India president Shashank Manohar declared the cash-rich event open amidst thunderous cheers from a capacity crowd.
Some of the world's leading cricketers, including star Indian players who guided the country to a historic World Cup triumph last week, will feature in the fourth edition of the event, being held for the first time without its brainchild Lalit Modi.
The controversial Modi was sacked as IPL chairman immediately after the third edition and is facing charges of irregularities in conducting the IPL.
The highlight of the show was a dance performance by Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, who is also co-owner of the Kolkata Knight Riders. He enthralled the huge gathering by dancing to some famous numbers from his flicks such as Chak-de India and Billu.
The 60-minute ceremony started with all the 10 captains signing the MCC Spirit of Cricket banner.
While all the captains were cheered as they came to the podium, the loudest applause was reserved for Indian captains Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Sachin Tendulkar and Yuvraj Singh, the man-of-the-tournament in the World Cup.
After a brief speech by , the chairman of the IPL Governing Council, it was turn of BCCI president Manohar to address the huge gathering.
"Congratulations to the Indian team for winning the World Cup. We acknowledge the effort of the boys, the support staff, the management and all the fans. Now we have two generation of World Cup heroes, each brilliant in its own right," Manohar said.
He welcomed the two new entrants to the League and expressed hope that this edition will produce more memorable moments.
"I take this opportunity to welcome two new teams -- Kochi Tuskers Kerala and Pune Warriors. Over the past three years, IPL has featured the best cricketing talent, legends along with up-and-coming players who were unknown to the audience," Manohar said.
"In 2011, we hope to see some great performances. We hope to create new cricketing memory governed by superb sportsmanship and spirit of the game," Manohar said while concluding his speech and declaring the mega event open.
Then followed a performance by the famous Prince Dance Group. The groups of dancers, painted from head to toe in saffron, green and white, the colours of the Indian flag, put up a nicely co-ordinated show with sounds and lights.
It was followed by a percussion show by Taufiq Qureishi's Mumbai Stamp and then came the singing trio of Mansai, Sona and Akriti, who sang Aa Dekhen Zara from yesteryear hit movie Rocky.
Hit Bollywood singers Kunal Ganjawala and Sunidhi Chauhan took spotlight with some of their chart busters and the ceremony finally concluded with Shah Rukh Khan's performance.
Shah Rukh entertained the crowd by speaking a few lines in Tamil, the local language.