Bengaluru: The eighth edition of the Karnataka Premier League (KPL) 2019 will get underway on August 16 in Bengaluru, it was announced here at the M Chinnaswamy stadium on Friday (July 26).

Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) secretary Sudhakar Rao, assistant secretary Santosh Menon and official spokesperson of KSCA Vinay Mruthyunjaya outlined the schedule of T20 matches involving seven teams, disclosing that the final will take place in Mysuru on September 1.

Just like in the Indian Premier League (IPL), KPL has introduced play-offs this season. 

Bengaluru will host matches for the first five days before the action shifts to Hubballi on August 22. The last leg of the tournament will begin in Mysuru on August 27. August 21 and August 26 will serve as rest days as the teams travel to Hubballi and Mysuru, respectively.

“The Eliminator, Qualifier are being introduced this year to make it that much more exciting and we will have a total of 25 matches,” said Menon.  

Former India paceman Venkatesh Prasad was the chief guest at the glitzy function at the KSCA. All the seven team owners and KPL brand ambassador Kannada actress Ragini Dwivedi were felicitated on the occasion.

Unlike last year when four players could be chosen, teams were allowed to retain only two players, forcing them to look into player availability, form and fitness with an even keener eye.

Expectedly, every team opted for marquee players in Pool A, which had a set of 35 players. Only three -- Avinash D (Belagavi), Nihal Ullal and Prithviraj Shekawat (both Shivamogga) -- were retained from Pool B, comprising 202 cricketers. 

The final Player Auction will be held on July 27.  

Not too surprisingly, India player R Vinay Kumar was held back by Hubli Tigers. Manish Pandey was, however, let go even though he is expected to be relieved from his international commitments by August 14.

Pandey may, however, be in much demand during the auction, with at least two or three teams likely to go all out for him.

Flamboyant opener Mayank Agarwal, who will also be touring the West Indies but for the Test matches, will be away during the KPL, necessitating his release by Hubli Tigers.

Abhimanyu Mithun, who raked in a record Rs 8.3 lakh last season, has also been let go by Shivamogga Lions and should be very much in demand.

K Gowtham, Shreyas Gopal and Karun Nair will also be in the running for multiple bids. While Gowtham’s numbers weren’t particularly flattering in the Indian Premier League, his ability to change the course of the game will weigh in his favour.

Gopal, on the other hand, picked up 20 wickets in 14 IPL games and should be targeted by a few. He has also showcased his ability with the bat in the ongoing Dr (Capt) K Thimmappiah Memorial Cricket Tournament. Nair, who didn’t get too many opportunities in the IPL, has been consistent in the domestic circuit and his batting prowess and leadership skills should interest the teams. 

Each team will comprise a minimum of 15 players and a maximum of 18 players. As always, each team will have to include an additional two players from their respective catchment area. A sum of Rs 20,000 will be allocated for this purpose over and above the Rs 30 lakh ceiling at the Player Auction, including the sum doled out for retained players.

This edition will also witness the introduction of the Right To Match option, which the teams can exercise on one player after the completion of the Auction.

KPL has tied up with PayTM & Insider as the exclusive ticketing partner, Star Sports as the Broadcast partner and Cycle Pure Agarbattis as the Associate partner. 

KPL has also joined hands with Cauvery Calling, a movement spearheaded by Sadhguru (Founder of Isha Foundation) to revitalise the River Cauvery.