The sixth season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament started on Wednesday, 3 April, and, as ever, the two-month event promises excitement and entertainment... both on the pitch and off it.
The concept of cheerleaders is still relatively new in India, unlike, say, in the US, where it is almost, if not actually, an art form. However, over the last five seasons of the IPL, the teams, the cheer squads and the audience have reached an understanding of sorts. And today, when the cheer squads do their bit for their respective teams, the crowds respond enthusiastically, urging their sides and players on.
There were quite a few critical comments in early seasons. This is not very surprising in a culture that is not particularly comfortable with the idea of women in mini-skirts dancing in public but considerable change in recent seasons, including the introduction of popular Bollywood numbers and costume changes that include Indian traditional wear have won over a majority of people.
It hasn't all been smooth sailing sadly. There have been a few less savoury controversies... such as the one involving South African cheerleader Gabriella Pasqualotto in 2011; she was sent home for writing on players' behaviour in post-match parties.
"...I was sent home as if I was a criminal. I was treated as if I had taken drugs or done something awful and I was never offered an opportunity to give my side of the story," Pasqualotto said then, "It's a joke. There are cameras everywhere at these after-parties watching what they (the players) got up to. The guys treated us like pieces of meat. We couldn't go anywhere without the crowds mobbing us and many of the girls did not behave. But nothing I wrote was directed at any one person. I think the cricketers who complained had a guilty conscience."
So now that you know the good and the bad of cheerleaders in the Indian Premier League, check out some photographs of cheer squads from IPL 2013...