Business of cricket: Royal treat for unsung Indian players

Written by fe Bureau | Bangalore | Updated: Feb 14 2014, 18:18pm hrs
Rajasthan Royals (RR), in keeping with their reputation, have emerged as the most canny franchise in the latest round of IPL auctions, picking up the maximum number of players (25) and still retaining Rs 5.5 crore in the purse. This was largely due their continued faith in unsung and uncapped Indian players.

Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), who wiped their wallet clean with some really expensive buys, bought 21 players. Ironically, RCB ignored players from Karnataka who were just crowned Ranji champions, while Anil Kumble and Rahul Dravid both from Bangalore picked up quite a few players for Mumbai Indians (MI) and RR, respectively.

At the end of the day, the teams that had saved most money have done the best financialmanagement, Ajay Jadeja told FE on the sidelines of the auction. However, different teams have variable yardsticks for arriving at their own suitable choices, he added.

IPL officials said the tournament is scheduled to be held in India between April 9 and June 3, as of now, though the dates are likely to clash with the general election. We are speaking with the home ministry officials and are expected to take a final decision over the next 10 days, said IPL chairmanRanjib Biswal. If the tournament could not be held in India, it will be moved to South Africa, he added.

At the end of the auctions, Kings XI Punjab had the second highest unspent amount at Rs 4.1 crore. The Punjab team, for whom Ness Wadia and former cricketer Sanjay Bangar controlled the strings, bagged 23 players, largely focussing on fast bowlers and a few hard-hitters. But they were evidently thin on spinning options, with only Murali Kartik providing them some slow bowling cover.

Delhi Daredevils started the auction with Rs 60 crore, while Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) still had R1 crore in their kitty. Daredevils have picked up a wide array of cricketers, assembling a very strong squad with the likes of Kevin Pietersen, Dinesh Karthik, Murali Vijay, JP Duminy and Ross Taylor. The Hyderabad team, too, looks robust with Aaron Finch, David Warner, Shikhar Dhawan and Dale Steyn in their ranks.

Finally, it is about branding and big names that can attract viewers. It's not about value for money. A team with big names can possibly monetise better with highersponsorshipor gate revenues, Harish Bijoor, brand consultantof Harish Bijoor Consults told FE.

A total of 154 players, including 50 from overseas, were sold at the auction with around R263 crorebeing spent. As many as 66 players have gone back to their same franchise, 24 of whom were retained by the respective teams, while 13 of them were kept by the same team using the Right To Match option that was introduced this year.

Day 2 of the auctions was dominated by uncapped players. There was some really aggressive bidding for leg spinner Karn Sharma, who pocketed Rs 3.75 crore. SRH retained the spinner, fighting off a stiff challenge from Kings XI Punjab. All-rounder Rishi Dhawan was bought at 15 times the base priceof Rs 20 lakh at Rs 3 crore by Kings XI Punjab. Ross Taylor and Murali Kartik, who were unsold on Day 1, were picked up for R2 crore and R1 crore respectively, on Thursday.