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Indian Premier League - Birth of the Big Success

When the BCCI’s incumbent vice-president Lalit Modi floated the idea of having a domestic cricket league – on the lines of the English Premier League (EPL) and the National Basketball Association (NBA) league – way back in 1996, the BCCI was not enthusiastic about the idea as it felt that such a league would run counter to the zonal system of domestic cricket, which includes the Ranji and Duleep trophy matches. For about a decade, it remained an idea whose time had not come.

As destiny would have it, in 2007, Zee Group’s chairman Subhash Chandra decided to do a Kerry Packer in Indian cricket. Kerry Packer, the legendary Aussie media tycoon, who was upset over the Australian Cricket Board’s refusal to accept his AUS$1.5 million bid for the television rights to screen Australian Test matches and Sheffield Shield Cricket on his Nine Network, started a rebel tour named the World Series Cricket in 1977. Taking a leaf out of Packer’s book, Subhash Chandra, whose Zee group alleged discrimination in the allotment of telecasting rights by the BCCI, launched the Indian Cricket League (ICL), a parallel cricket league at the domestic level in India, which kick-started its first season in November 2007 with six teams—Chandigarh Lions, Chennai Superstars, Delhi Jets, Hyderabad Heroes, Kolkata Tigers and Mumbai Champs.

Though the BCCI wouldn’t like to acknowledge it more than anything else, it was Subhash Chandra’s press statement in April 2007 announcing the launching of a rival cricket league that forced the BCCI to move into top gear to translate Lalit Modi’s idea into a billion-dollar league, which the Indian Premier League (IPL) is. The IPL, which was unveiled in September 2007 is, in actual fact, BCCI’s answer to media mogul Subhash Chandra’s ICL.


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