The 14-crore high and the heartburn

Going for broke… Bangalore Royal Challengers owner Vijay Mallya had to shell out an extra four crores to pick up Yuvraj Singh, who emerged the most expensive player at the auction.-G.P. SAMPATH KUMAR

Royal Challengers Bangalore pursued Yuvraj Singh to the very end at the IPL auction in Bangalore. It was a purchase that created drama. By K. C. Vijaya Kumar.

Flamboyance is intrinsic to the Vijay Mallya persona. Though he may have plunged to the depths through Kingfisher Airlines, he remains larger than life. Mallya’s penchant for embracing the ‘headlines’ was evident in the way the Royal Challengers Bangalore owner pursued Yuvraj Singh at the IPL auction in Bangalore. It was a purchase that created drama.

Mallya seemed to have bagged the southpaw at Rs. 10 crore and when the auctioneer, Richard Madley, declared ‘sold’ the process seemed closed. But immediately, Madley realised that there was a last minute counter-bid from Kolkata Knight Riders and revived the process. In the ensuing inflation, Yuvraj went for Rs. 14 crore.

Mallya later said, “We are very, very happy.” There was a rider too, to the extra four crores, as he termed it ‘unfortunate’. The same night, RCB lodged a complaint with the IPL Governing Council, but chairman Ranjib Biswal and Madley stuck to their positions. “We go by what the auctioneer did,” Biswal said. Madley added: “It is these difficult decisions that help me earn my keep. What I did was fair.”

Sri Lankans, anyone?

A trend emerged right on the first day of the auction — the cold-shouldering of Sri Lankan players. When Mahela Jayawardene, at the reserve price of Rs. 2 crore, found no takers within the first 30 minutes of the auction, the adjacent media room lapsed into a shocked silence.

The odd question about regional politics influencing the bids did the rounds. The reality though had nothing to do with equations across the Palk Strait that runs between Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu. The Emerald Isle’s willow-wielders are set to tour England this summer and the owners were not keen on buying players who will not be available for a major part of the League.

Besides Jayawardene, Angelo Mathews was among the Sri Lankans who were overlooked though Muttiah Muralitharan (RCB) and Thisara Perera (Kings XI Punjab) did find takers. Perhaps Kumar Sangakkara can give Nostradamus a run for his money, as the Sri Lankan factored in the England tour affecting his chances at the auction and made himself unavailable.

Lady luck and Kings XI Punjab

Sanjay Bangar and Preity Zinta are an odd couple. The former cricketer is steeped in old world graces and even as a player, he kept a low profile while being a mighty contributor for Railways and also while making his mark in the limited games he did duty for India. At the other extreme is the actress, so often referred to as being ‘bubbly’. Right from her days of modelling (Liril soap) to her subsequent transition to Hindi films, Zinta has revealed an effervescent streak and, understandably, has drawn maximum attention from the photographers.

However, along with coach Bangar, the Kings XI Punjab co-owner meant business. The duo shrewdly bagged the right mix of players that included big tickets such as Virender Sehwag and Mitchell Johnson among others known for their efficiency. “Mitchell is good for us because of our conditions,” Zinta said, referring to the seamer-friendly tracks in Mohali, Kings XI Punjab’s home ground.

No takers... Mahela Jayawardene & (below) Angelo Mathews of Srilanka.-S. SUBRAMANIUM

When matters of luck were discussed at a press conference, Bangar said: “Lady luck favoured us.” Zinta was quick to turn it around, “I am the lady luck!”

Domestic heroes and just desserts

Karn Sharma and Rishi Dhawan, unsung stars in domestic cricket, leapfrogged into everyone’s imagination on the second day of the auction. With the IPL Governing Council paving the way for a level playing field for uncapped players by bringing them into the auction pool, the cricketers who give their best to State and institutional teams at the first-class level found real value in rupees.

PTI

Sunrisers Hyderabad bagged Karn, the Railways’ leg-spinner, at Rs. 3.75 crore, while Kings XI Punjab gained Rishi Dhawan, the Himachal Pradesh all-rounder, at Rs. 3 crore. The duo expressed joy while it was interesting to note the high self-esteem that rippled through Kedar Jadhav’s words.

“My fine run in the Ranji Trophy, where I finished as the top run-getter, obviously helped. But I did expect to go for a higher price, so my price fell below my expectations. But I guess the franchisees didn’t have too much money left,” said Jadhav (Maharashtra) after being picked by Delhi Daredevils at Rs. 2 crore.

Sons of the soil shunned!

It’s unfortunate that Mannina Magas (sons of the soil, in Kannada) found none to back them within the Royal Challengers Bangalore management. The 21-member team had no one from its home base Karnataka and that too after the State squad is flush with success in the Ranji Trophy and the Irani Cup.

While Karnataka players found enthusiastic buyers among the other teams, all they got was a vacant stare from the RCB table when Richard Madley called out their names.

Priety Zinta... picking the right mix of players for Kings XI Punjab with the help of coach Sanjay Bangar.-G.P. SAMPATH KUMAR

Yes, Yuvraj Singh’s cost (Rs. 14 crore) restricted RCB’s budget and the team was forced to string a sequence of cheap buys to fill its squad.

Yet, there is no excuse for overlooking Karnataka players like seamers S. Arvind and H. S. Sharath, who came in at the low reserve price of Rs. 10 lakh! Strangely, even the so-called ‘big stars’ like R. Vinay Kumar and Robin Uthappa were ignored.

Chris Gayle may regale the local fans at Bangalore’s Chinnaswamy Stadium but they will surely miss having at least one they can call ‘ Idhu namma huduga’ (He is our lad).