Even as the craze for the Indian Premier League was reaching its peak, the curtains would be drawn on the innovative Rajiv Gandhi Rural Twenty20 Cricket tourney, brainchild of Local MP Rahul Gandhi in Amethi later this month.
Gandhi is expected to be the chief guest at the final of the tourney to be played between teams of Amethi and Tiloi gram panchayats somewhere before May 21, the death anniversary of late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
The winning team would get a cash prize of Rs three lakhs, while the runners up will be rich by Rs 1 lakh.
State Congress chief spokesperson Akhilesh Pratap Singh said that this cricket tournament was one of the largest cricket tourneys in the world with 1,857 teams, just from the Amethi parliamentary constituency, are participating in 1,819 matches.
"Rahul Gandhi involved around 30,000 youths in his constituency in this cricket tournament which created much enthusiasm among the young generation in the region," Singh said.
In the IPL, there are only eight teams with around 128 players and over 115 matches would be played.
Meanwhile, Congress leaders in Amethi claimed that it was an innovative way to reach to the youth in the constituency and Rahul Gandhi has taken the lead in relating cricket with politics.
"Everywhere the youths, who are the part of this tournament have started lauding Rahul for his effort to bring the most popular game in the area," the leaders claimed.
"With the Lok Sabha election near, such a tournament would certainly boost the party with the youths coming closer to the Congress youth icon," they claimed.
The tournament held 150 matches every day between April 15 to 31 in the preleminary round spread out in 140 grounds in Amethi and other adjoining places.
There were 262 umpires officiating in the matches, while 3,714 cricket bats and 11,000 balls were used. Altogether 131 volunteers were also engaged by the organisers for scoring and other activities in the tournament.