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Last Updated: Friday, 30 November 2007, 05:58 GMT
India cricket rebel series begins
Indian Cricket League logo
The competition has been described as a rebel series
The first private professional international cricket league in more than 30 years is to begin on Friday.

The Chandigarh Lions, led by New Zealander Chris Cairns, face the Delhi Jets, who boast Sri Lanka's Marvan Atapattu and England's Paul Nixon.

The six-team, 17-day Indian Cricket League includes stars like Brian Lara, Lance Klusener and Inzamam-ul-Haq.

But cricket's governing body, the International Cricket Council, has refused to recognise the competition.

The $25m (12.5m) competition is led by legendary Indian cricketer and former captain Kapil Dev.

However, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has also refused to acknowledge the Indian Cricket League (ICL) and has threatened players with lengthy bans.

A number of younger Indian players have joined the tournament.

Other national governing bodies are warning their players against taking part.

'Serious cricket'

The first edition of the tournament will be restricted to 20-over contests - popularly known as Twenty20 - and will feature teams named after six Indian cities.

"It will be absolutely professional and serious cricket," Kapil Dev told reporters on the eve of the series.

ICL BIG NAMES
Australia: Damien Martyn
West Indies: Brian Lara
Pakistan: Inzamam-ul-Haq, Imran Farhat, Abdul Razzaq, Azhar Mahmood
England: Chris Read, Darren Maddy, Vikram Solanki, Paul Nixon
New Zealand: Chris Harris, Chris Cairns, Hamish Marshall, Nathan Astle
South Africa: Lance Klusener, Nicky Boje
India: Dinesh Mongia
Ireland: Boyd Rankin, Niall O'Brien

Former South African batsman Daryll Cullinan, who coaches the Calcutta Tigers in the new league, told the BBC that he believes the ICL is good for the game and its players.

"What's clear to me is that they have been given the opportunity to enter into a new level of professionalism which you would not be getting at state or provincial level," he said.

"You wouldn't be getting that I think in most countries around the world.

"So the chance to experience that - to be exposed to new ideas and new levels of professionalism - it's got to be good for the game surely."

The BBC's Rahul Tandon, in Calcutta, says only time will tell whether the ICL will last.

An officially sanctioned rival, the Indian Premier League, begins play in April boasting its own star names including Australia's Ricky Ponting and Muttiah Muralitharan of Sri Lanka.

The Australian businessman Kerry Packer formed a similar league in 1977.

The World Series only lasted two years but it changed the face of the game forever, bringing a new level of professionalism to it.

SEE ALSO
Rebel league 'to hit Indian cricket'
21 Aug 07 |  South Asia

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