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Lalu bats for ICL, offers rly grounds

New Delhi, August 9
The fledgling Indian Cricket League (ICL) today got a shot in the arm with maverick Railway Minister Lalu Prasad offering it the Railway stadia for organising the big ticket tournament involving some of the legends of the game.

''We will definitely allow ICL to host their tourney in our stadiums and in turn will charge token amount for it'', Prasad told reporters here.

The offer from the Railway Minister, who is also the President of Bihar Cricket Association (BCA), could not have come at a better time for the breakaway league, which is desperately looking for grounds to stage the much-hyped million-dollar competition.

The ICL, headed by India's greatest all-rounder Kapil Dev, claims to have roped in players like Brian Lara, Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne. Describing the formation of the ICL as ''good for the game'', he said, ''The proposed tournament would provide an opportunity to those talented players who have not so far got a look-in to display their wares.''

The BCA chief was also of the view that the tournament, having so many international superstars, would generate competition and provide exposure to local players.

''I think the ICL is a good initiative,'' said Prasad, unmindful of the strong BCCI stand against those planning to join it.

Only yesterday, the BCCI had issued a stern and unconcealed warning that ''those who joined or wishes to join the ICL will be deprived of all the benefits from the Board and will be out of their scheme of things''.

Prasad, however, deftly parried a question whether his offer would create fissures between the BCCI and the ICL, merely stating that the competition was good for the players and for the game as a whole. UNI

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