New entrants to the IPL rich club take stock

The IPL has changed the lives of many young cricketers in the country. With big money and bigger dreams, these cricketers have it all sorted...

Mohammed Siraj, Aniket Choudhary and Murugan Ashwin's fortunes have changed for the better because of the IPL.

The scribes present at the Wankhede Stadium that evening couldn’t stop laughing. The Indian Premier League (IPL) fixture between Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore had just got over, and maintaining its poor form, the Virat Kohli-led Bangalore side suffered yet another defeat. As the journalists waited for the mandatory post-match press conference, Aniket Choudhary, the tall, young medium pacer from RCB, walked in.

It was officially his first entry to the big ticket league, and the question was obvious — “What have you gained from the IPL?”

Without even thinking for a second, Choudhary answered: “Rs 2 crore!”

That had the scribes giggling. It was an honest confession by the medium pacer from Rajasthan. After seven odd domestic seasons, Choudhary finally broke into the IPL auction this year, and fetched Rs 2 crore. Led by India captain Virat Kohli, the Royal Challengers Bangalore, went all the way to get Choudhary on board, and he did not disappoint. Even as the RCB had one of its nightmarish seasons, Choudhary grabbed five wickets from as many matches. “It has been a great learning experience for me. To play alongside Virat (Kohli), AB de Villiers, Chris Gayle is a big thing. More than the money, I have enjoyed the experience on field,” Choudhary tells Sportstar.

Royal Challengers Bangalore bought Aniket Choudhary for Rs. 2 crore in the IPL auction this year.   -  PTI

These days, the cricketer can be spotted in any of the shopping malls in Delhi or Jaipur. An employee with the Income Tax department, Choudhary is known for being a shopaholic, and the big money in the IPL has only added up to the shopping spree. “Even when I would play Ranji Trophy, I would splurge a lot on shopping. It’s not that I need to run the family, and I am not even married, so what do I do with so much money? It’s better I spend it on myself,” Choudhary laughs.

Known for his wittiness, the Rajasthan medium pacer, however, spends a large part of his salary on gym and improving his fitness level. “For a cricketer, it is important to be physically strong. For that, it is necessary to hit the gym,” he explains.

He bought a car a couple of years back and his houses in Jaipur and Bikaner had been renovated recently by his father, so Choudhary has different plans with the big money he has earned from the IPL. “I want to invest it on real estate or something like that. I don’t know what would happen tomorrow, so it is better that I invest in buying a house or a shop. At least that way, I can rent them out when required,” Choudhary, who holds a degree in computer engineering, says. The hunt has already begun. “I am in talks with a few people about that,” he says.

For Karnataka off-spinner K. Gowtham, this IPL has been about gaining experience. After picking up 27 wickets for the Karnataka side in the Ranji Trophy, Gowtham was roped in by Mumbai Indians for Rs. 2 crore. He, however, didn’t get a single game and had to warm the benches. The Karnataka cricketer, however, sees that as a learning experience. “This was my first IPL season and I take back a lot of positives from it. It has been a great learning experience,” Gowtham says. Even though he had to sit out throughout the season, the Karnataka cricketer is happy with the fact that he could learn a thing or two from Sachin Tendulkar, Shane Bond and Mahela Jayawardene. “It is always a great thing to learn so many things from the greats. It was also a great feeling to learn so much from Harbhajan Singh,” Gowtham says.

In the couple of months, Gowtham made it a point to interact with Harbhajan to improve his bowling. “His tips will definitely help me a lot,” he says. But what about the big money he earned?

Gowtham’s immediate target is to build a house for his parents. “That’s the main target. I have a few other commitments that need to be addressed. I have to use the money on family related matters,” he explains, adding that the glitzy league has taught him how to tackle different situations.

Coming into the auction with a base price of Rs 20 lakh, Mohammed Siraj was roped in by the Sunrisers Hyderabad for a whopping Rs 2.6 crore.   -  K.R. Deepak


It’s a similar feeling for Hyderabad boy Mohammed Siraj. Coming into the auction with a base price of Rs 20 lakh, the uncapped Indian seamer was roped in by the Sunrisers Hyderabad for a whopping Rs 2.6 crore. But Siraj proved that his franchise was not wrong in picking him, and scalped 10 wickets in six matches. That has not only made him a known name in the circuit, it has also changed his world.

The family was dependent on his father — an auto-rickshaw driver —for running the show. But now, with big money flowing in, Siraj’s immediate target is to move to a bigger and better house. “The house hunting has started. With the money coming in, I want to gift a better life to my parents, and that’s the primary objective now,” the youngster says from Hyderabad.

It is difficult to get through to him these days. The mornings are spent looking for new houses, while the evenings are reserved for the family. “Mera toh duniya hi badal gaya hai. This IPL means a lot to me,” Siraj says. Despite playing for the home side in the domestic tournaments, Siraj was considered just another young talent, but now things have changed for the better. “These days, people can recognise me at one go,” he says, adding that the IPL has taught him how to remain cool in pressure situations. “I have learnt how to adapt to various situations. This is a big thing for me,” he says.

While Siraj is busy house hunting, Tamil Nadu’s Murugan Ashwin is back to playing in a local league in Tamil Nadu. Bought for Rs. 1 crore by the Delhi Daredevils, Ashwin didn’t get a game. The leg-spinner, however, is moving on from that disappointment by playing the local league. With an medical emergency in the family, Ashwin is busy shuttling between home and hospital these days, but even then, his target is to do well in the domestic tournament. “It is a bit of busy time,” he says, admitting that the IPL has been a learning experience.

Tamil Nadu’s T. Natarajan has gone on a break after the IPL. Playing six games for Kings XI Punjab, the left-arm seamer could only bag a couple of wickets, not exactly doing justice to his price tag of Rs. 3 crore.

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