Three Indian Premier League franchisees — Mumbai Indians, Rising Pune Supergiants and Royal Challengers Bangalore — have expressed interest to play IPL exhibition matches in the United States, the Press Trust of India reported, quoting BCCI sources as stating.
The step has been taken to present the matches in front of the NRIs (Non-Resident Indians) living in America. Houston has been zeroed in as a potential venue, while September remains the tentative month for the event to take place.
"The matter [to host matches in the US] is expected to be discussed at the IPL Governing Council in Bengaluru before start of the final match tomorrow [Sunday]. The venue is tentatively Houston," a senior BCCI official has been quoted as saying by the news agency.
"However the dates need to be chalked out. Earlier, it was being discussed it would happen in the window available between India's tour of Zimbabwe and West Indies. But it could now be held in September also. All three teams are expected to play against each other. Obviously, major attractions will be Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni," the official added.
In November last year, an exhibition Twenty20 series termed 'Cricket All-Stars' was held in the United States, which featured legends of the game like Sachin Tendulkar, Shane Warne, Virender Sehwag and Wasim Akram. 'Warne's Warriors' won all the three games over 'Sachin's Blasters' in the three-match T20 series.
The stadiums remained full during the matches and the series also received massive response from cricket fans all around the world.
"In the US, T20 is the only game that can be marketed because of its duration. If we have to squeeze in a Mini-IPL next year, this is the time to send the popular franchises like MI, RCB and check what's response of NRIs and Indian diaspora," the BCCI official said on the proposed exhibition matches.
"If the response is good, we can think about expansion. We can also harbour hopes that sponsorship market in the US will open up."