Johannesburg to host IPL final on May 24

A wide-angle view of The Wanderers ESPNcricinfo Ltd

All eight IPL franchises will play at least half their matches in Durban, Cape Town and Centurion, where they hope to have significant crowd support from the sizeable Indian-origin population, according to the official tournament schedule that was released on Friday night.

The opening double-header in Cape Town on April 18 - Mumbai Indians v Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals v Bangalore Royal Challengers - will feature at least nine South African players, including Graeme Smith, the South Africa captain, in a calculated attempt to spark local interest in what is essentially an Indian domestic event.

JP Duminy will take the field for Mumbai against Makhaya Ntini and Albie Morkel. On the same day, Smith, Morne Morkel and Tyron Henderson will play for Rajasthan against Jacques Kallis, Mark Boucher and Dale Steyn for Bangalore.

The opening day will also showcase two England stars who will make their IPL debuts, Kevin Pietersen, who was bought by Bangalore for US$ 1.55 million, and Andrew Flintoff, who was signed for the same amount by Chennai.

According to the schedule, Cape Town hosts a chunk of the matches in the beginning of the tournament till April 26 when the action shifts to the Supersport Park and other venues. The matches in Durban, the main venue, run through the whole tournament from April 21 to May 20. The final is being held on May 24 in Johannesburg, which also hosts one of the semi-finals the day before

Kingsmead in Durban, which has a sizeable Indian-origin population, was allocated 16 matches, the highest among the eight venues, while Supersport Park in Centurion will host 12 games. The Wanderers and Newlands will stage eight matches each, while St George's Park in Port Elizabeth and Buffalo Park in East London were given seven and three matches respectively. Two matches each were handed to the Outsurance Oval in Bloemfontein and three to the De Beers Oval in Kimberley.

Kings XI Punjab play 10 of their 14 matches, the maximum among the eight franchises, at the three venues in demand, followed by Kolkata Knight Riders, Rajasthan Royals, Bangalore Royal Challengers and Chennai Super Kings (9), Deccan Chargers and Mumbai Indians (8), and Delhi Daredevils (7).

The matches will be held at 12.30 pm and 4.30 pm local time (4.00pm and 8.00pm IST; 10.30am and 2.30pm GMT ).