Following the success of Indian Premiere League (IPL), Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) launched the Karnataka Premiere League (KPL) in 2009, a domestic T20 tournament that gives players from all parts of the state a platform to prove their mettle at the highest level.
Adding a splash of enthusiasm to the 22-yard strip in the KPL is the Rockstars team, led by Sandalwood star Kiccha Sudeep.
What makes cricket so popular in this country is the common man’s passion for the sport that attests itself readily to the lore of the game. Throw in the fact that you have a movie star leading a pack of 11 players to the cricket field, and you have a recipe for instant success.
A gorgeous cover-drive unfurled from the willow of an elegant actor, a diving catch by a nimble silver-screen star, and the theatrical expressions punctuating the air, as willow meets leather, make Rockstars one of the most widely followed teams in the KPL.
The Rockstars, co-owned by Raju Gowda and Sudeep, were the seventh team to enter KPL in 2014. The ‘all-stars’ team received a major boost last year, when former cricketers Venkatesh Prasad, Sunil Joshi and David Johnson joined their ranks, in the quest for the coveted KPL trophy. However, the inclusion of seasoned cricketers did not bring much luck to the side, as they finished with a wooden spoon in the fourth season.
But in a welcome move this year, the Rockstars were allowed to participate in 2016 KPL auctions, thus levelling the playing field to a certain extent.
The Rockstars team, part of the auction for the first time, signed Karnataka first-class cricketer SL Akshay for Rs 2 lakh from Pool A, before adding Naveen B, Ritesh Bhatkal, and N C Aiyappa from Pool B.
Lending strength to the Rockstars’ batting this year, will be Railways batsman Nitin Bhille. Bhille has played 25 first-class matches, where he scored 1,153 runs at a modest average of 30.34, with six half-centuries and two hundreds against his name.
In yet another exciting purchase at the auction, the team signed wicket-keeper batsman Sharath B R, who was given the best batsman award for his stellar performances in the U-19 Vinoo Mankad Trophy and Cooch Behar Trophy in 2015-2016 season.
The Rockstars would be hoping that Sharath summons his batting skills to change the team’s fortunes this season.
The splendour of Sudeep’s popularity and the ‘star’ value of his side are now rightly complemented by the cricketing prowess of some young and exciting talents. This potpourri of glamour and sport should hold the Rockstars in good stead in the days to come. With the stadiums packed to the rafters, and the crowd behind them, Rockstars would want to script a victory story in KPL-5.
Team: SL Akshay, Naveen B, Ritesh Bhatkal, Sharath B R, N C Aiyappa, Nitin Bhille, Kichcha Sudeep (C), Daivik Vishwanath, Sandeep Yadav, Madan Mohan, Raju Gowda, Charan Teja, Pradeep Bogadi, Vihaan Rajeev, Rahul R K, Mahesh V, Rajkumar, Dhruv Sharma, Sandeep Nayak, Vishnu Priyan. Owners: Raju Gowda and Kiccha Sudeep
Support staff: Raghu – CEO, Mahendra Gouda -Team Manager, C Raghu – Coach, Ramakanth – Physio, Deepak N J – Franchise Representative, Brijesh Gowda – Franchise Representative, Rajesh Bellary – Franchise Representative, Manga Rao – Assistant Coach.