Mahendra Singh Dhoni launched the Tamil Nadu Premier League at a vibrant function here on Thursday.
“Yellarukum Vannakam,” (greetings to everyone) he said in Tamil, amidst thunderous applause, and then spoke about the Twenty20 competition, to be principally sponsored by India Cements, that will take cricket into the districts of Tamil Nadu.
“It will be a big opportunity for the youngsters in Tamil Nadu to take up the game. The TNPL will be a good platform for them,” said team India’s captain in the shorter formats.
Dhoni said the India and Ranji players from Tamil Nadu should not look at the money being offered by the TNPL alone.
“The State association has done so much for them. They should now give something back to the game. When they play in the TNPL, they will be encouraging kids in the districts to take to the game. They will be paying back something to cricket,” Dhoni said.
The Indian captain took the opportunity to acknowledge the qualities of the cricket-loving public in Chennai. “They are very knowledgeable and appreciate good cricket from the visiting team too,” he said.
“I have come back to Chennai after nine months. This is the longest gap for me between visits to Chennai in past several years. Hopefully my next visit to the city will be much quicker,” he said.
Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) president N. Srinivasan said: “This is a big moment for Tamil Nadu cricket. The tournament will take cricket to the distant corners of the State.”
Thanking Dhoni for travelling to the city despite his busy schedule, Srinivasan made a reference to Chennai Super Kings and said: “We will all have to wait for one more year and then the men in yellow will be back.
“And Dhoni will be wearing the yellow jersey.”
TNPL chairman P.S. Raman thanked the franchises and the sponsors for getting the tournament off to a good start. “It has been beyond our expectations,” he said.
Former Tamil Nadu leg-spinner L. Sivaramakrishnan engaged the captains of the different franchises in an interactive session. The franchise owners were invited to the stage.
The theme song of TNPL, composed by Anirudh, was released on the occasion.