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Business of cricket: Royal treat for unsung Indian players

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SummaryRoyal Challengers Bangalore, who wiped their wallet clean with some expensive buys, bought 21 players.

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 financial management,” 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 chairman Ranjib 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 higher sponsorship or gate revenues,” Harish Bijoor, brand consultant of Harish Bijoor Consults told FE.

A total of 154

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