Team from Bengaluru to join Karnataka Premier League

Christened 'Kalyani Bengaluru', the team will be owned by Kalyani Motors, one of the city's leading car dealers.

Seven teams will participate in the league this season.   -  K. Murali Kumar

After having been part of the first two years of the Karnataka Premier League (KPL), a franchise from the state capital will return ahead of the sixth edition of the KPL. Christened 'Kalyani Bengaluru', the team will be owned by Kalyani Motors, one of the city's leading car dealers.

Six other teams – Bijapur Bulls, Belagavi Panthers, Bellary Tuskers, Hubli Tigers, Mysuru Warriors and Namma Shivamogga – have renewed their franchise rights for the next five years. But the Karun Nair-led Mangalore United and actor Kiccha Sudeep-led Rockstars will not be part of the T20 tournament.

A fresh player auction will be held on August 6 and the tournament will kick-start on September 1 at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium before moving to Mysuru and Hubbali. The full schedule will however be chalked out after taking into account the date for the India-Australia One-Day International scheduled to be held in Bengaluru in September.

In the past, KPL matches in Bengaluru were poorly attended and coupled with the fact that the goal was to popularise the game in the second-tier towns, Bengaluru was omitted. On the other hand, matches in Hubballi and Mysuru have seen fans turn up in good numbers. But KSCA spokesperson Vinay Mruthyunjaya hoped Bengaluru too would bring in the followers.

Initiatives for fans

“We will be having a lot of initiatives to bring fans. Tickets will be very very modestly priced. We are also planning to invite a lot of school children. We will do our best,” he said.

Sanjay Desai, KSCA President, said that this year's tournament was a great opportunity for the state's aspiring cricketers to catch the eye of Indian Premier League teams ahead of the mega IPL auction in 2018. Desai, however, warned that there would be zero tolerance of player misdemeanours of any kind. In 2014, a KPL player had come under the scanner of the BCCI Anti-Corruption and Security Unit.

“We are preparing cricketers for national duty. The rules will be stricter than ever. The dug-outs, player areas will be strictly monitored. We will be taking the assistance of BCCI and will be conducting workshops, seminars to educate players,” he said.