KT Exclusive: IPL in UAE is like a soother and unifier, says Rajasthan Royals chairman
Barthakur doffed his hat to the UAE for being such a courageous country amid a global crisis
The Rajasthan Royals story resonates with everyone that loves an underdog tale.
How the unfancied Royals, led by Shane Warne, overcame mighty obstacles to script a fairytale win in the first edition of the Indian Premier League in 2008.
It's not surprising then that Ranjit Barthakur, chairman of Rajasthan Royals, is a man who evokes the never say die spirit.
At a time when the world is going through a lot of pain and uncertainty in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, Barthakur believes the IPL in the UAE will be a soother.
"The IPL happening in the UAE is absolutely superb because it's the human soother, it's a like a pain reliever in the time of pain and anger. It's very important that we treat IPL more as a soother and a unifier," Barthakur told Khaleej Times during an interview at the Rajasthan Royals' team hotel in Dubai on Saturday.
"And more than anything else, it's the largest brand India has created. IPL has around 800-900 million followers. So, the impact that this IPL is going to have is going to be that of a stress reliever, it will soothe the mind like yoga and meditation."
The 66-year-old Barthakur then doffed his hat to the UAE for being such a courageous country amid a global crisis.
"The UAE government has been very kind. Also, I must compliment the Emirates Cricket Board and I do believe (staging the IPL) is like winning an award, like people celebrate when the Olympics or the Fifa World Cup is given to one country. I do believe it calls for celebration for the side that is hosting it because it is the Indian Premier League in the UAE," he said.
"It also shows the universal acceptance of cricket and the kindness of India to promote its own league in a country which they consider their own brother or sister.
"Also, this message will go to the 800-900 million IPL followers in the world that it's fantastic to play cricket in the UAE because it's a very safe country, it's a very courageous country. And the kind of precautionary measures that have been taken by the BCCI and the ECB have been absolutely phenomenal."
Finally, Barthakur revealed that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) never contemplated cancelling this year's IPL.
"Sourav Ganguly, Brijesh Patel, Hemang Amin, Jay Shah have created a leadership position to say 'we want the IPL and we want IPL anywhere, it's too big a brand for India to lose'. So, despite all the challenges of Vivo and China, they made it happen!
"So the first credit must go to BCCI and IPL governing body. Secondly it takes a lot of courage from a country in a pandemic to welcome us.
"For that the UAE must be credited and the Emirates Cricket Board. Also, the Indian foreign ministry, home ministry and not to forget the sports ministry, they played an important role. Of course, backed by the ICC and this (Dubai) is the home of ICC."
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