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Now, a new T20 controversy in Maharashtra
Thecontroversy between the Indian cricket board-promoted Indian Premier League (IPL) and Essel group's Indian Cricket League (ICL), is likely to see a repeat in Maharashtra in the domestic level of the tournament, this one involving two of the state's most powerful media groups.

The Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) has announced a cash-rich Maharashtra Premier League (MPL) Twenty-20 (T20) cricket tournament, which is supported by Sakaal Media Group, and is due to start in May. It will lock horns with Lokmat Group's Lokmat Maharashtra Cricket Championship (LMCC) T20 tournament, scheduled for November in Pune.

MPL is being promoted by Sakaal, which is now run by Abhijit Pawar, the nephew of Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar and the LMCC is being run by Congress MP Vijay Darda.

Like the IPL, both leagues will follow the franchisee model and have eight teams each. Ranji trophy players, other local players and players from other states will be auctioned in a manner similar to the IPL.

The trouble is that the MCA has hinted at prosecuting players joining the LMCC and even ban them in future. Its MPL T20 tournament is the official domestic version of the trounament.

Both leagues have already approached a number of broadcasters for the live telecast of these cricket matches. The revenue from TV rights, as well as radio and newspaper tie-ups, is expected to generate crores of rupees for the organisers. The LMCC is expected to be worth Rs 20 crore and MPL more than Rs 30 crore.

MCA president Ajay Shirke, who is a close aide of Sharad Pawar, said "We have created a pool of 122 players from Ranji trophy and under-22 cricket teams. Players aged below 30 will be eligible to play in this league. The MCA committee has short-listed good players who would be auctioned to eight franchisees."

Asked about the rebel league by the Lokmat group, Shirke told Business Standard, "The Lokmat group had sought our permission to hold a cricket tournament. However, we have not approved it. If players join this league, we will take an appropriate action."

The Lokmat group has, however, claimed it has a no objection certificate (NoC) from MCA. "Our tournament is being organised in accordance with BCCI rules, even though it is a private league and has no official status," said Rishi Darda, president, LMCC.

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