Orhan Abbas, Emirates’ vice-president, India and Nepal, exchanges gifts with Deccan Chargers co-owner Gayatri Reddy in Hyderabad during the signing of a three-year deal to sponsor the Indian Premier League franchise. Image Credit: Courtesy: Emirates

Dubai: The Indian Premier League (IPL) got a major shot in the arm yesterday with Emirates airline becoming the team sponsors of Deccan Chargers, the Hyderabad team which emerged champions in the second edition in 2009. The nine-team IPL V starts from April 4.

"We are honoured to be joining forces with the Deccan Chargers and partnering with the team for the next three IPL campaigns," said Orhan Abbas, Emirates' vice-president for India and Nepal, at a press conference in Hyderabad.

This is the second time Emirates will be sponsoring an IPL team after their association with King's XI Punjab earlier while the airline is also one of the partners of the International Cricket Council (ICC) with its logo enjoying pride of place on the umpires' shirts.

While this is the latest move in the field of sport sponsorship, Emirates has believed in using sport as a major branding vehicle since the ‘90s.

In an interview with Gulf News earlier this month, Shaikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation and Chairman and CEO of Emirates airline and Group, had said: "Our association with sport is nothing new for even before cricket and football, we have been associated with golf, tennis, horseracing and powerboating. It's a very strong tool in connecting with the masses."

Strengthening support

Speaking at the press conference yesterday, Abbas said: "It is also a tremendous opportunity for us to further strengthen our support for a sport which the people of India follow with renowned passion. The IPL has rapidly established itself as a spectacle of sport and entertainment, followed by billions around the globe, and will provide Emirates a platform to consolidate our position as a world force in sports sponsorship."

The Deccan Chargers — starting their title challenge against the Chennai Superkings in Vizag on April 7 — feature household names, such as skipper Kumar Sangakkara of Sri Lanka, South African stars J.P. Duminy and Dale Steyn, as well as Indian wicketkeeper-batsman Parthiv Patel. The event in Hyderabad — to which Emirates has been flying since 2001 — was attended by vice-captain Cameron White, head coach Darren Lehmann and their fellow Australian Daniel Harris, as well as Indian stars Patel, Shikhar Dhawan, Amit Mishra and Manpreet Gony, who had the honour of unveiling the 2012 home kit.

"We are proud to have a leading global brand like Emirates as our team sponsor for the next three seasons of the IPL. We are confident this association with Emirates will be fruitful. With an exciting new squad and sponsor, we look forward to the tournament and repeating our winning performance in DLF IPL 2012," said Deccan Chargers co-owner Gayatri Reddy.