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Jammu lovely place, IPL matches possibility: Former NZ cricket captain Ross Taylor

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JAMMU: Praising Jammu as a “lovely place,” former New Zealand cricket captain Ross Taylor said he believes that the refurbished Maulana Azad Stadium in the heart of the city could be a venue for the Indian Premier League.
The cricketer is here along with over 100 former greats of the game for the season 2 of the Legends League T20 cricket, which brought the competitive cricket to the winter capital of Jammu and Kashmir after a gap of more than three decades.
The first of the four matches was played at the 20,000 capacity stadium under floodlights Monday evening and attracted an enthusiastic turnout of fans from all parts of the region, including the Kashmir valley.
“I think you have to leave a little bit more grass on it…different parts of India play differently and this is the beauty of the game of cricket. You don’t want similar wickets everywhere and the black soil here was a bit low and slow.
“Obviously, it (the match) came down to the last over and that is what you want in T20 cricket,” Taylor said.
The batter made the remarks to reporters in a post-match interaction after his team, Southern SuperStars, registered a thrilling five-wicket win over Manipal Tigers.
While chasing a modest total of 124 runs set by Manipal Tigers, the Southern SuperStars needed 28 runs in the last two overs and rode on Pawan Negi’s heroic turn to finish the game in 19.4 overs.
Cricket lovers who turned up to witness the match were seen cheering every hit to the fence but Manipal Tigers captain Harbhajan Singh, though a bowler, was definitely the favourite.
Singh, who gave away just 10 runs in his four overs, was the most economical bowler and took an important wicket of explosive opener Jesse Ryder.
Lauding the organisers of the Legends league, Taylor said it is good for a player to be still involved in the game of cricket after retirement.
“It is good to see Harbhajan and (Suresh) Raina, all these legends and the legends from other countries to come out and play. When they do retire, people think that they won’t be able to see them again,” he said.
“It is also nice to go and spread the game and come to non-traditional cricketing places like Jammu and Dehradun, probably not on the international calendar so to speak.
“People do come out at smaller places and see their heroes which is fantastic,” said the NZ player who played 112 international tests and smashed 19 tons in his 15-year run.
Coming from a place no less captivating, Taylor was also sold on Jammu. “I thoroughly enjoyed this place. It is nice to be in Jammu I have not played here before. This is a lovely part of the world.”
On Tuesday, while some of the players, including Harbhajan Singh, Suresh Raina, and S Sreesanth, offered prayers at Mata Vaishno Devi shrine atop Trikuta hills, players like Kevin Piertersen, Devon Smith, Martin Guptill, and Nikhil Chopra enjoyed their rest day at Jammu Tawi Golf Course.
Legends League cricket co-founder and chief executive officer Raman Raheja thanked the crowd for turning up in good numbers and said “the objective of the league is to take cricket where the game has not taken place for a very long time.”
“Six teams with over 100 former international players have reached here on the third leg of the tournament. Eight matches were conducted in Ranchi and Dehradun and now we have four matches in Jammu,” he said.
The series became the reason Bilal Ahmad Mir, a resident of Srinagar, could see the players in live action for the first time. “This was the first time that I watched a match in a stadium and I enjoyed every bit of it.”
Speaking on behalf of the locals, Sanjay Kumar said people are happy that such competitive cricket is taking place in Jammu, as he requested slashing of ticket rates for the remaining three games.

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