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IPL hit by new googly
NEW DELHI: Nothing seems to be going right at this stage for the second edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), the multi-million dollar Twenty:20 tournament which has attracted the captains of Indian industrialists including Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries Ltd. to invest in team franchisees.

The sponsorship fracas between the IPL management, Reliance ADAG's Big TV and Sony Entertainment Television (now called Multi Screen Media) has triggered the first of a series of misfortunes. While the economic downturn is impacting sponsorship revenues, today's terror strike on Sri Lankan players in Pakistan has once again raised the issue of security.

Home minister Chidambaram wants the IPL organisers to postpone the tournament so that it does not clash with the country's general elections. The state machinery will be too stretched to provide security for both the IPL, which spreads across nine cities, and the nationwide elections.

"I have asked the home secretary to get in touch with the IPL organisers," Chidambaram told the CNN-IBN news channel. "Since, the election dates are unalterable, I have asked to find out if the dates of the IPL can be rescheduled. I would be happy if the tournament starts when the bulk of the polls is over."

The IPL management, however, does not want to disturb the tournament window between 10 April and 24 May while agreeing to reschedule some matches that clash with the polling dates.

Says IPL chairman and commissioner Lalit Modi, “We are going ahead as per schedule. The IPL is fully cognizant of the importance of general elections in a country such as ours. We will go a step further to ensure that there will be no games 24 to 48 hours prior to the polling dates across all the nine match venues in the country. As indicated earlier, IPL will work with the State and the local authorities to ensure the smooth and successful conduct of the tournament. We will announce the new reworked schedule in the next 24 hours.”

The IPL and the home ministry will review the IPL schedule on Wednesday. In a crowded international calendar, the IPL authorities may, however, find it difficult to shift the dates of the tournament. And it needs no saying that big bucks are riding on the IPL.

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