A number of Indian companies have successfully bid for teams in the Sri Lanka Premier League (SLPL), highlighting the lure of the franchise model in cricket's largest market despite the BCCI's reluctance to allow Indian players to participate, according to reports.
Among the winners are the Wadhawan Group, a business conglomerate with interests in real estate, retail and education, India Cricket Dundee, an Indian fan organisation along the lines of the Barmy Army, and Varun Beverages Lanka (Pvt) Ltd, the agent for Pepsi in Sri Lanka.
The Wadhawan Group bought Wayamba for $5.02 million, the highest price for any of the franchises. Wayamba represented Sri Lanka in the first two Champions League T20 tournaments in 2009 and 2010 and has Mahela Jayawardene, the Sri Lanka captain, as it's icon player. The group has been involved with cricket in the past, most notably as sponsors of the New Zealand national team, the Victoria Bushrangers and VicSpirit teams through Dheeraj East Coast, a joint venture between Dheeraj Realty, the group's real estate company, and East Coast LLC, an Australian company.
Mumbai-based India Cricket Dundee (ICD) bid $4.33 million to buy the Basnahira franchise. Formed in 2010, ICD's stated aim is to create a "widespread fan base that will be able to support the Indian cricket team all year round, whether at home or on tours away", according to their website.
Varun Beverages, based in the West Province of Sri Lanka, won the rights to the Nagenahira franchise for $ 3.22 million, the lowest price for a franchise. The company is a subsidiary of RJ Corp, which includes InBev India International Private Limited, which distributes beers such as Stella Artois and Budweiser in India. The group also runs the Delhi Public School in Gurgaon.
Kandurata was the second most expensive team at $4.98 million and was picked up by Number One Sports Consulting Private Limited. The Uva and Ruhuna franchises were bought by Success Sports and Pearl Overseas respectively for $4.6 million each, while Rudra Sports Private Limited picked up Uthura for $3.4 million. The news was reported in the Sri Lankan Daily Mirror.
A player draft will be held on July 5 and 6 to determine the composition of the teams. Each team can have a maximum of 18 players, including six foreign players. The SLPL starts on August 10, with the final to be held on August 31. There will be 24 games in total, split between Colombo and Pallekele.