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'Our doors are open for Dhoni': LLC CEO also in 'conversation' with De Villiers, Pollard for next season

Author : IANS

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Surat, Dec 10 (IANS) Legends League Cricket (LLC) in the last few years has become a favourite tournament for many legendary cricketers across the globe. From Gautam Gambhir, Suresh Raina, and Harbhajan Singh to Universe Boss Chris Gayle, all-rounder Jacques Kallis and others, icons galore here on the cricket field with a desire to showcase their skills without the fear of being judged.

For many, LLC has become a "natural second innings," providing a platform for those who retired early from international cricket or the IPL. After a recent meeting with iconic cricketer MS Dhoni in Ranchi, LLC CEO Raman Raheja expressed his eagerness to invite the World Cup-winning captain to join the league following his retirement from the IPL.

"I'm not competing with active cricket, whenever he (Dhoni) finalises to play for us, our doors are open for him. I will personally go and ask him to come to the League," Raman Raheja said while replying query from IANS in the media roundtable.

Raman Raheja also highlighted how cricketers themselves are bringing other players to the League. The Symbiosis graduate revealed that RCB star batter AB de Villiers and Mumbai Indians legends Kieron Pollard are also in the fray to join their countrymen in playing the LLC.

"Dale Steyn was slated to play in the League but unfortunately he had an injury and to bring him in the League to play, it was none other than Jacques Kallis. Now Dale Steyn hasn't played but he has talked to AB de Villiers about playing in the LLC," said Raheja.

"So it has become a network among the cricketers, Shane Watson, who was also slated to play in LLC, called upon Shaun Marsh. I'm looking forward to it (having De Villiers in LLC), I'm in discussion with him. And not only him, even Keiron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo are on my radar," he added.

"The players have become my biggest ambassadors, so, for example, players from New Zealand brought in new players like Martin Guptill has come in, same for Australia, Finch joined in. So I'm seeing that this is becoming a natural second innings. We are in conversation not only with them (De Villiers, Pollard) but a lot of more players," Raman Raheja told exclusively to IANS.

With an increasing number of young players opting for early retirement to engage in competitive cricket through LLC, the average age of cricketers in the league has decreased from 42 to 38 in the recently concluded season. Raheja envisions LLC becoming the preferred second innings for players who want to continue playing cricket.

"Average age here in LLC is decreasing day by day, it was 42 in the first season and now it has reached 38. This is my biggest win and we want to compliment the active cricket format and not compete with them. I expect this to become a first choice as the second innings for the players," said the 50-year-old sports business professional.

In the culmination of the LLC 2023 season, Manipal Tigers emerged victorious by defeating Urbanrisers Hyderabad by 5 wickets in the finals at Lalabhai Contractor Stadium in Surat on Saturday. As Raheja reflected on the season, he noted that while each subsequent season surpasses the previous one, the first season remains close to his heart as it turned the dream of LLC into a reality.

"Every subsequent season has superseded the previous one, so from that context, every last season of ours becomes the favourite but obviously the first season was close to my heart because we were able to put the dream to reality," he signed off.



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