Abu Dhabi: Fighting for credibility after being left devastated by a spot-fixing scandal, the glamorous but controversial Indian Premier League will roll out its seventh edition here from tomorrow with the promise of putting cricket first while keeping the drama and glitz to a bare minimum.
Defending champions Mumbai Indians, captained by Rohit Sharma, will square off against 2012 winners Kolkata Knight Riders, led by veteran opener Gautam Gambhir, in the event-opener at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium here.
The UAE is hosting the high-profile T20 event's first leg from April 16 to 30 owing to a clash of dates with the Indian general elections and security concerns emanating from that.
The tournament will return to India on May 2 after being assured of security in states where voting would be over by that time.
The razzmatazz, which has made IPL a magnet for both the fans and the cricketers world over, is not expected to just vanish because of the unsavoury scandal but the organisers have promised to tone down the glamour bit.
To start with, there would not be any opening ceremony this year, replaced by a gala dinner for the teams where Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan, co-owner of the Kolkata Knight Riders franchise, is one among the stars who is expected to perform.
But when the curtains go up on perhaps the most popular domestic cricket tournament in the world, focus will also be on the off-field matters in the backdrop of the ongoing Supreme Court monitored investigation into the betting scandal in which some big names of the league have been implicated.
For one, BCCI President N Srinivasan and Chennai Super Kings co-owner N Srinivasan has been forced to step aside and the event's COO Sundar Raman is also under the scanner.
Its reputation might have taken a beating but what is likely to remain unchanged is the fans' adulation for the IPL.
Even though UAE is foreign land, finding a fan-base for the tournament has not been much of an issue due to the huge expat population which has shown its support to the event by buying off tickets within a few days of them going on sale.