Dubai: UAE’s richest domestic cricket tournament is back again. The second edition of the Kerala Premier League (KPL), with more teams and bigger prize money, was launched yesterday through a colourful ceremony held at the India Club.
All 12 team owners, top cricketers, cricket council officials, Suresh Gopi, KPL brand ambassador and Malayalam film super star launched the event by conducting the draw for the tournament. A whopping total prize money of Dh185,000 is up for grabs and the winning team can pocket Dh70,000.
In addition to the defending champions Dunes Cuisine Kannur Veerans and runners up Wayanad Highlanders, Trivandrum Royals, CSS Alleppey Ripples, Yogi Group Trissur Dynamites, Global IT Malappuram Knights, Du Calicut Zamorins, Thumbay Kasargod Leopards, this year four more teams have entered the fray. They are Phoenix Medicines Kollam, Capital Kochi Diwans, Globe Link West Star Shipping Pathanamthitta Rajas and Concord Ventures Palakkad Harvesters.
Addressing the gathering, Gopi said: “I am confident that the second edition will be as great a success as the first edition. I feel proud to be associated with such an event which is growing in popularity.”
After the launch, Gopi told Gulf News. “My aim is to see this tournament grow and become the Middle East’s biggest tournament involving even other Middle East countries too.”
The second edition of the KPL will be held from November 2 to December 2 at the Dubai Sports City Stadium and International Cricket Council Global Cricket Academy grounds like last year in a festival atmosphere with cheerleaders. This year’s KPL willusher in more entertainment with a cinema cricket match between Directors XI and the Actors Kerala on December 1, on the eve of the final at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium. Chandrasenan, who is the coach of the Actors Kerala team, and M.A. Nishad, the skipper of the Directors XI, were present to announce the star-studded match.
The KPL is keenly followed by around 3.5 million Asian expatriates of the region and is being held under the auspices of the Dubai Cricket Council (DCC). Mohammad Lokhandwala, secretary of the DCC, said: “We are delighted to support this event which is very popular and are expecting a keen contest like in the last edition.”
Mazhar Khan, of Emirates Cricket Board, praised the success of the tournament and said: “It is indeed great to see different communities and nationalities get together to play in a tournament.”
As per the rules of the tournament each team must have three local players from Kerala with UAE residence visas, and one Under-22 player from UAE. Each team is allowed two overseas players who can be on transit or visit visa in the playing XI. Many team owners have already roped in top cricketers from India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Afghanistan to play for their teams.
The draw was held in the presence of KPL management team made up of Paul T. Joseph, Roy George, Anand Kumar, Thomas Philip, Sanu Mathew and C.T.K. Nasir.