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India unveils new Twenty20 event

NEW DELHI – Indian cricket authorities on Thursday paraded superstars Glenn McGrath and Stephen Fleming at the launch of a new Twenty20 league to counter a rival group.

The Indian Premier League will be made up of franchised teams under the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), said vice president Lalit Modi. India’s famed veterans Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble and Sourav Ganguly were also present at the glitzy announcement in a posh hotel in the Indian capital.

The BCCI is embroiled in a bitter row with rival Indian Cricket League (ICL), which is due to start in October after signing up international and domestic cricketers for a Twenty20 tournament.With the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup underway in South Africa, the BCCI has swiftly embraced the new form of the game which it had largely ignored until the ICL emerged in April with an ambitious plan to break the mould.

Fleming was axed as New Zealand Test captain on Wednesday after a decade in favour of one-day skipper Daniel Vettori. He also announced he was retiring from one-day internationals and would soon end his Test career as well.

Former Australian paceman McGrath quit international cricket this year with 563 wickets in 124 Tests.Their presence was supported by cricket officials from most the Test nations as well as Ray Mali, president of the International Cricket Council.Retired Australian spinner Shane Warne has reportedly already rejected an offer from the ICL, bankrolled by media baron Subhash Chandra who owns India’s largest listed media company Zee Telefilms.

“Warne’s manager James Erskine confirmed last night he had sent a letter to the ICL rejecting a three-year contract believed to be two million dollars,” the Mid Day newspaper said.The ICL, which plans to hold Twenty20 tournaments between city teams for the next three years, has already signed up seven international stars and 44 Indian first-class cricketers.

Former Test captains Brian Lara of the West Indies and Inzamam-ul-Haq of Pakistan lead the ICL list that also includes Pakistanis Mohammad Yousuf, Abdul Razzaq and Imran Farhat and South Africans Lance Klusener and Nicky Boje.The BCCI has decided to bar Indian players aligned to the ICL from playing first-class cricket, making them ineligible for selection for national teams.

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