IPL welcomes the Kochi and Pune franchises

The southern cities of Kochi and Pune will host the two new franchises in the Indian Premier League, it was announced today.

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The southern cities of Kochi and Pune will host the two new franchises in the Indian Premier League (IPL), it was announced in Chennai today. Pune's successful bid came from the adventure sports arm of the Sahara Group, while Kochi ? a surprise addition to the Twenty20 tournament ? was snapped up by a consortium called Rendezvous Sports World. Sahara had, in fact, bid a massive US$370 million (Dh1.35 billion) for three cities ? Ahmedabad, Pune and Nagpur ? but settled on Pune due to its proximity to Mumbai, while Rendezvous bid US$333m to acquire rights to Kochi. Both successful bids were well in excess of the base price of US$225m set by the IPL. IPL commissioner Lalit Modi revealed Pune and Kochi had beaten three other valid bids. "We are absolutely delighted by the overwhelming response to our tender process," Modi said. "There were five qualifying bids in all and they were all of very high quality. "I thought the bids would be in the region of US$320-325m, but this is a little above my expectations. "Everybody believed the US$225m figure I set was way too high, but I always felt it was low and the eventual outcome has been very pleasing. "Kochi have put together a good consortium and a big one, but they have a big task ahead of them because they have to get their new stadium up and running. "It's a big market and we always wanted to expand the IPL to other parts of India, and this is a perfect start." From the next season onwards, the IPL will feature ten teams ? which means a total of 94 games, up from the current 60 in the home and away format. Twelve cities were in the fray for the two franchises and the owners of the teams were a matter of intense speculation. The names of the two cities and its owners were originally scheduled to be revealed on March 8, but the original tender process was cancelled after only two valid bids were received and the IPL called for fresh tenders after making amendments to the rules. * PA Sport