Acceding to a request from the International Hockey Federation (FIH), the Indian Premier League has decided to advance the March 13 match between Mumbai Indians and Rajasthan Royals by an hour to provide a clear window for the hockey World Cup final.
"It's a matter of pride for all of us in the BCCI and IPL that India is hosting the World Cup. To give a clear window for the March 13 final (in New Delhi) we will start the IPL match between Mumbai Indians and Rajasthan Royals (at Mumbai) at 3 pm instead of 4 pm," IPL chief Lalit Modi announced in Mumbai on Wednesday.
Modi's announcement came in the presence of FIH president Leandro Negre, who flew down personally to thank him for the gesture and said the World Cup final will be held between 1830 and 2000 IST the same day.
"I'm very pleased and happy over the good gesture by the IPL. It's good working together," said Negre, who represented Spain in the 1968 Mexico Olympic Games.
Modi said that with the change in timings Indian sports fans can look forward to a "Super Saturday" on March 13, the second day of the Twenty20 League.
"For fans of hockey and cricket March 13 is going to be a Super Saturday. First they can watch the IPL tie between Mumbai Indians and Rajasthan Royals, then they can turn to the hockey World Cup final from 6:30 and then revert to IPL for the day's second match (from 8 pm)," Modi said.
"We wanted to give a clear window for the World Cup final and, hopefully, India would figure in it," the IPL chief said.
Modi also invited Negre for the opening ceremony of the IPL, scheduled at Hyderabad on March 12. The FIH president, in turn, asked Modi to be present for the next day's World Cup final at Delhi.
Negre said that while cricket is India's top sport, hockey too is in the country's heart.
"While we recognise cricket as one of the top sports in India, I know hockey is in the Indian heart," said the FIH chief, who recalled playing on the hallowed turf of Lord's in England during the Pre-Olympic tournament held in 1967.
Negre also announced the FIH's plans to start a World Inter-Club competition and said for an Indian club to take part in this it is essential to start a Premier Hockey League.
"The commencement of the Premier Hockey League is necessary once the elections to Hockey India are over. The winner can represent India at the World Inter-Club competition that FIH is going to start," he added.