Last night, the opening ceremony for the Indian Premier League 6 took place at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata. The colourful and star-studded event featured performances from Bollywood stars Deepika Padukone (who has recently worked with Superstar Rajinikanth for upcoming film "Kochadaiyaan"), Shah Rukh Khan (who is working on the film "Chennai Express") and Katrina Kaif.
The night also featured a performance by popular pop/jazz singer of Tamil heritage Usha Uthup, as well as an appearance by international artist Pitbull. Pitbull replaced previously billed artist Jennifer Lopez, who was dropped due to her outlandish demands.
Tamil Nadu’s calls for the banning of Sri Lankan cricket players in their state has put a spanner in the IPL machine this year. TN’s chief minister Jayalalithaa last week wrote a letter to India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, saying that "IPL matches involving Sri Lankan players, umpires and other officials should not be played in Tamil Nadu". There have been state-wide protests in Tamil Nadu recently, with protesters and hunger strikers demanding for an independent investigation into Sri Lanka’s alleged war crimes to be carried out.
Following this, IPL officials decided that Sri Lankan cricketers will not take part in matches held in Chennai over the course of the tournament.
Former Sri Lankan cricket captain Arjuna Ranatunga spoke to Indian news channel NDTV, saying that "politics and sports should be kept separate", a sentiment that has been echoed by other sports personalities. Sri Lankan Tamil cricket player Muttiah Muralitharan voiced his disappointment over the ruling, making it a point to mention that as a Tamil player who was on the Sri Lankan team for 20 years, he never faced any problems.
"Chennai is like a second home for me," added the player, whose wife is from Tamil Nadu’s capital city. "It is a sentimental situation for me. We do not want to get into politics and we just want to play our cricket and entertain our fans."
Just yesterday, Kollywood stars including Rajinikanth, Vikram, Dhanush and Suriya were involved in a hunger strike for the cause, along with other industry professionals. Responses to this were mixed, with some saying that this was more of a publicity stunt than anything else.
The IPL tournament kicks off today with last year’s champions Kolkata Knight Riders playing the Delhi Daredevils. The other teams in the tournament this year are the Mumbai Indians, Pune Warriors India, Rajasthan Royals, Kings XI Punjab, Sunrisers Hyderabad, Royal Challengers Bangalore and last year’s runners-up, the Chennai Super Kings.