Tharoor swings willow for $333-m Kochi IPL team

Written by M Sarita Varma | Thiruvananthapuram | Updated: Mar 23 2010, 05:05am hrs
Co-author of a book on India-Pakistan cricket Shashi Tharoor has given a business spin to his writer-turned-politician career, spindoctoring a consortium Rendezvous Sports World Ltd that bagged a cricket team for Kochi in Indian Premier League (IPL). Rendezvous, spearheaded by Mumbai-based Shylendra Gaekwad and Gulf-based Vivek Venugopal, was jubiliant in its $333.33 million (Rs 1,533.33 crore) to get Kochi , one of the two new IPL teams from the next season.

Initially Bollywood filmmaker Priyadarshan and Malayalam screen idol Mohanlal was prepared to be part of the Kerala team bidding for IPL. Later, when IPL had raised some caveats, they had backed off. Since the final shape of the team is yet to be concrete, I am keeping fingers crossed that they may once again come to the picture. No reason, why they cannot, minister of state for external affairs Shashi Tharoor told FE. However, the ball is not in my court and the right people will make the decision in right time, he hastened to add.

Even as IPL chairman Lalit Modi insists that Tharoor was the backroom brain behind Rendezvous Sports World, the MP from Thiruvananthapuram says he was only the cheerleader. I am not part of the bid but was pleased to give Rendezvous Sports World my encouragement and blessings. My interest is in transforming Kerala, Tharoor says in Twitter.

IPL is an extremely valuable activity that is here to stay and grow. It will go a long way in terms of its popularity, he tweeted in the social networking site.

For Thiruvananthapuram, his home constitutency, Tharoor has been sewing up a twin-city deal with Barcelona. Part of this project is a dream to get Barcelonian football team to play in Thiruvananthapuram, Tharoor had told his voters.

For Kerala cricket, winning the IPL bid is its maiden business sixer. The game is yet to take off in a big way in Kerala, often getting bowled out in infrastructure issues.Kochi has hosted about five one-day international matches, with Thiruvananthapuram hosting the first ever ODI way back in early eighties. Tharoor has brought a big buoy for Kerala cricket, says TC Mathews, secretary, State Cricket Association.