Indo-Africa fusion draws curtains on IPL

Monday, May 25, 2009

Johannesburg - A glittering closing ceremony, with an Indian African fusion, drew the curtains on the Indian Premier League (IPL) on Sunday evening.

The Adam Gilchrist-led Deccan Chargers defeated Anil Kumble's Royal Challengers Bangalore by six runs in a see-saw final.

About 1 500 flying lanterns were lit and released to the amazement of the crowds, while several thousand rounds of dazzling fireworks lit the Johannesburg skyline.

From Jai Ho to Gimme Hope Jo'anna, the IPL closing ceremony mesmerised South Africans, giving them a taste of Indian and African culture.

Indian Bollywood actress Katrina Kaif performed the popular Jai Ho song, from the movie Slumdog Millionaire, with a mix of Indian and African dancers while Eddy Grant enthralled the audience with his popular numbers including Walking in the Sunshine and Gimme Hope Jo'anna.

Senegal-born American singer Akon sang his popular number Smack That, while the fusion of Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram bhajan with African drums created a magical aura at the Bull Ring at the Wanders.

Speaking at the closing ceremony, South Africa President Jacob Zuma thanked the organisers for choosing the country as venue of the Twenty20 league which was shifted out of India after it coincided with the Lok Sabha election.

"I thank the organisers for showing trust in South Africa's ability to host the event in such a short notice. We had to prepare eight stadiums in three weeks' time, besides arranging extra hotel rooms and air tickets.

"It has been a great pleasure to be part of the excitement of the DLF IPL T20 that has gripped our country over the last five weeks," the President said.

He also thanked the Bollywood actors Shah Rukh Khan, Preity Zinta and Shilpa Shetty for coming to South Africa.

The President said a few months ago only a handful of South Africans had heard of the Kolkata Knight Riders, the Deccan Chargers or the Delhi Daredevils.

"Today they are household names across the country. In little more than a month the Twenty 20 cricket series has worked its way into the hearts of South Africans and become a firm favourite," he said.

He further said the IPL tournament played in South Africa has revitalised the country's economy with over R1 billion. "South Africa has benefited from the advertising spend, the tourism potential and global exposure that the month-long tournament has brought."

President Zuma assured thousands of fans who attended the finals between Deccan Chargers and Royal Challengers Bangalore that the successful hosting of the DLF IPL reaffirms South Africa's confidence to host another successful international tournament, the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup.

"We urge our international guests not to rush back home just yet; there is a lot of fun and excitement coming up in this beautiful country," he said.

In three weeks time South Africa will host the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup where some of the world's best soccer-loving nations converge on South Africa for a two-week feast of football.

Included in the line-up are World Champions Italy, as well as Brazil, Spain and Egypt.