The rebel tournament of Zee group chief Subhash Chandra, the Indian Cricket League, is set to take birth at Chandigarh's Tau Devi Lal stadium on Friday; though pangs remain.
Having grappled with problems like securing a playing arena and last-minute uncertainly over key international players like Brian Lara, ICL will take guard with live performances by Bollywood actors Kareena Kapoor and Lara Datta, model Yana Gupta, singers Sunidhi Chauhan, Kailash Kher and Band of Boys, among others.
That could be expected from a group that is a force to reckon with in media and entertainment. However, the lifeblood of media and advertising has been more than a walk in the park for Chandra.
Currently, ICL, which will be played in the increasingly popular 20-overs-a-side format, has a partnership with apparel brand Provogue for uniforms while Microsoft is the online partner and Thomas Cook the travel partner.
On Monday, in a bid to attract on-air advertisers, the promoters Essel Sports announced that the first 30 minutes of the matches will be telecast live across its 25 channels in India and overseas simultaneously.
This initiative was taken after advertisers' lukewarm response to the promoters' decision to telecast the matches only on Zee Sports. Advertisers are now considering buying ten-seconds slots for around Rs 20,000.
ICL executives are scouting for one on-air presenting sponsor who would pay around Rs 75 lakh and six associate sponsors who would pay nearly Rs 48 lakh each.
However, industry estimates suggest that with the tournament starting on November 30, the asking rate may come down.
Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Railway Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav will be the chief guests at the inauguration. Following which, two teams representing Delhi and Chandigarh, respectively, will play against each other.
The six teams representing Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi, Bangalore, Chandigarh and Hyderabad will begin play on November 30, and the series will conclude on December 16.
The champion team will play for prize-money of Rs 3.9 crore, the runner-up will get Rs 1.9 crore. The team ranking third, fourth, fifth and sixth will get Rs 1.5 crore, Rs 1.25 crore, Rs 1 crore and Rs 85 lakh, respectively.
This apart, every winning team, each day, will be awarded Rs 18.75 lakh, while the man of the match, in each match, will be awarded Rs 3.75 lakh.
Each team consists of 19 to 20 players, of which, five are international cricketers. Going by the schedule, each team will play around six to seven matches. The ICL will host 20 matches in the Twenty20 tournament in its first season.