A 45-minute programme left the jam-packed Stadium spell bound, writes Kalyan Ashok.

A new dawn broke for cricket at dusk on April 18 at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium as the DLF Indian Premier League was ushered in amidst the razzle and dazzle of lights, laser, music and fireworks.

A 45-minute programme left the jam-packed Stadium spellbound and T. Venkat Vardhan, the event manager of the show, put it as —“it was aimed to awe”. Sure, the fans were in awe of what transpired on a rather warm late evening.

Even as milling crowds jostled its way to the Stadium, the show began with the music trio of Shankar Mahadevan, Ehsan and Loy, belting out the popular Bollywood track, “Jhoom Bara Bar Jhoom,” and kept the fans swaying to the beat.

Then as laser beams and strobe lights cut across the field in multi colour hues, the 2007 season NFL Champion Cheerleading squad, Redskins of Washington took the stage to perform their ‘rah-rah routine’.

Even before the spectators could take their eyes off the winsome lasses, the stilt walkers and acrobats took over.

The aerial stunts with girls performing with gravity-defying routines, had the crowd asking for more. It was then the turn of Dutch singer, Alma, who crooned the theme song of the event “Dare to Dream.” As her final notes melted into the night, synchronised fireworks lit up the sky.

Later the serious segment of business took over as Ravi Shastri introduced the eight captains and the loudest cheers were reserved for Sachin Tendulkar of Mumbai Indians, followed by Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and M. S. Dhoni.

Sunil Gavaskar then read out the preamble of the IPL Championship, “Spirit of Cricket”, which beckoned the players to play the game in true spirit, with respect for rival players, teams, umpires and laws of the game. The eight captains then formally inked that declaration setting the tone for a healthy competition.

The BCCI President, Sharad Pawar, termed the launch of IPL as a “historic day for cricket” while Ray Mali, acting President of the ICC, hoped that the game would now move on to the next level.

Lalit Modi, the chairman and commissioner of DLF IPL who declared the championship open, summed up the organisers upbeat mood on a star spangled night — “it exceeded our wildest dreams”.