Rakhi Sawant to lead ICL cheerleaders’ squad

New Delhi, Sep 23 (IANS) The Indian Cricket League (ICL) Tuesday unveiled its indigenous cheerleaders’ squad ICL Zeebras that will be led by Bollywood oomph star Rakhi Sawant as its “Queen Cheerleader”.

The squad will be present at every match of the second season of the league that begins at Hyderabad Oct 10, an ICL statement Tuesday said.

“Cheerleading is not just tamasha (mindless drama). It is a sport by itself. Until now, it was the exclusive domain of the international cheerleading troupes. But, thanks to ICL, this country will now have an indigenous cheerleaders’ squad,” Sawant said in the statement.

The ICL Zeebra squad comprises eight other cheerleaders – Ritika, Preeti, Jessica, Geeta, Richa, Sharvari, Jayshree and Sangeeta. They will perform across all the match venues of Gurgaon, Panchkula, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad.

Sawant has personally auditioned and hand-picked the squad members and their performances will be designed by a Mumbai-based choreographer.

“It was after my performance at Panchkula during ICL’s Season 1 that I saw a huge opportunity for a possible Indian cheerleading squad,” the actress said.

“That dialogue resumed a few months later and culminated in the formation of the ICL Zeebras. I can’t wait to don my Zeebra outfit and break into a jig every time Rohan (Gavaskar) or Raviraj (Patil) hits a six. I am sure, this will be one cheerleading squad that the country will remember for a long time,” she added.

Shariq Patel, ICL’s senior vice president (Marketing & Operations), said: “Cheerleaders have a significant role to play in the modern context of sports. The ICL Zeebras squad includes some extremely talented and graceful dancers. I am confident that this synergistic initiative between cricket and entertainment will formulate a completely new experience for sports fans of the country.

“Our new initiative ‘Cricket Hai Meri Life’ has been supported with a Rs.50 crore (Rs. 500 million) marketing campaign. This will be the new mantra for young cricketers at ICL,” Patel added.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) that governs the game in India has barred ICL players from turning out in domestic and international matches. At BCCI’s instance, the governing boards of other cricket playing nations have declared a similar ban.

BCCI conducts the official Indian Premier League (IPL) that was a roaring success at its inaugural season earlier this year.