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IPL moves out of India, franchisee owners happy
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#1
9999, 7232, 7474, 555.... These aren't any profit or loss figures but licence plates of some of the jet black, flaming red and pristine white swanky Maybach and Mercs of the Indian Premier League (IPL) franchisee owners and cricket honchos.

The cars rolled in and out of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) Cricket Centre on Sunday afternoon even as the dust being raised due to the rebuilding of the Wankhede Stadium (for the 2011 World Cup) refused to settle.

The Centre was a beehive of frenetic activity as the BCCI met, first with it's working committee and later with the IPL franchise owners, to decide on moving the glamourous Twenty20 IPL outside the country.

IPL has turned out to be the other name of uncertainty and can be now nomenclatured as NRIPL. It has now been decided that IPL venue will be shifted to international grounds – most likely to England and South Africa. However, the tournament will follow the old schedule and the old format.

Due to the General Elections around the same time as IPL, the Government reasoned that the security for the matches will prove inadequate. Despite working out numerous schedules, a consensus could not be reached and finally BCCI announced that the matches will be held out of India.

Alarmed by the development, the franchisee owners arrived dot on time, one after the other, but soon emerged, after perhaps a power lunch, with smiles and promises of an equally exciting IPL event this year too, though on foreign shores.

First up was Nita Ambani, wife of Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani and co-owner of IPL franchise Team Mumbai. Dressed in white and sporting brown sunglasses, she smiled to say, "I'm happy it's on. Shifting IPL out of India was the last resort for us, but we did not want to stop IPL from taking place this year.More importantly, the IPL governing council has assured us that they will take care of the expenses."

Uncertainty over the new venue (England or South Africa) wasn't an issue with her either. "We are happy as long as IPL takes place and the Indian people get to watch the matches during prime time (IST) like it was last year." Ambani stressed.

Equally suave and sure was Team Bangalore owner Vijay Mallya. Adjusting his Yves Saint Laurent glares, he tried to explain the situation better. "Not having the second edition of IPL in India is unfortunate despite our best efforts. Because of the ensuing general elections, there is an inevitable conflict between the dates of IPL and the poll dates."

Mallya adds, "It is also impossible to shift the IPL dates and I am happy that the BCCI has taken the decision to continue with the IPL outside India. All the club owners have welcomed it and we will be prepared and ready. The show goes on."

On the expenses Mallya added, "the IPL commissioner has assured that the financial interests of all franchisees will be protected and it's a welcome gesture. It's a great commitment to show to the world that the IPL will go on. The IPL may be moving away for a year, but it will always be the IPL with majority of players being Indian. The spirit of the competition and the enthusiasm of the players will not be compromised."

Team Kolkata owner superstar Shah Rukh Khan, who sported a blue scarf, was unassumingly calm and addressed the issue with great poise. "We need to respect the general elections, they are much bigger than our issue. This is an attempt to resolve our problems than create more. We appreciate the IPL governing council's efforts and it's a great decision for us." he said.

SRK expected his sponsors to rally behind the team despite the event being held overseas. "It's a television event. Of course, the buzz like in India, may not be there, but it will surely go on to be a success."

The bright and bubbly Preity Zinta was her usual self in oversized goggles and had beau Ness Wadia for company. "It's a good decision and we want the event to happen. The IPL teams have fans all over. It is an international event and internationally loved,'' they echoed.

There was no giggling Shilpa Shetty (co-owner Team Rajasthan) while Team Hyderabad's long haired media baron Venkatram Reddy whizzed off in a hurry.

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