Sri Lanka Premier League 2012 August 9, 2012

SLPL gets top Indian auto-maker as title sponsor

ESPNcricinfo staff

The SLPL has unveiled Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M), one of India's largest automobile manufacturers, as the title sponsor of the inaugural tournament that begins on Saturday. This announcement ends a run of bad news for the league, including the withdrawal of its biggest draw, Chris Gayle, and other top international players in the past few days.

The addition of one of India's prominent business groups as the title sponsor is further evidence of the appeal of Twenty20 cricket to companies wishing to promote their brand and products. S.P. Shukla, the head of Group Strategy at the Mahindra Group said Sri Lanka is a "strategic market for the Mahindra Group", and that cricket was the best way for the company "to connect and engage with audiences as it is the most followed sport in the sub-continent with a fan base of approximately 1.5 billion fans across India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh alone."

However, the tournament has been hit by the loss of some important names. Gayle has been ruled out due to a serious groin strain. Two other overseas players - Pakistan's Abdur Rehman and West Indies' Fidel Edwards - have also withdrawn from the tournament, while Bangladesh allrounder Shakib Al Hasan was denied permission to play in the tournament by the Bangladesh Cricket Board last week.

The Uva Next franchise have replaced Gayle and Rehman with Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Fawad Alam and Jacob Oram. The Uthura Rudras have drafted in Kyle Mills and Australia batsman Rob Quiney to replace Shakib and Edwards. 

The seven-team SLPL kicks off on August 11 and will feature a round-robin stage where the teams will play each other once. The top four teams will then go through to the semi-finals. All the games will be split between Colombo and Pallekele. A total of 56 overseas players had initially been signed. But some of those players will only take part if other overseas players became unavailable.