What do Mallya and Shah Rukh have in common? Quite a lot, you would say. Both are highly successful in their professions, are Type A personalities, are passionate about winning and are very flamboyant. They are also shrewd businessmen and love sports. Naturally, they understand the money generating potential of cricket. No wonder they own a franchise each in the Indian Premium League.
Unfortunately for them, their vision of success could not be replicated in the field during the first season of IPL. While Shah Rukh’s Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) came 6th in the field of 8 teams, Mallya’s Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) finished at the 7th position. Mallya gave vent to his frustration by sacking the CEO Charu Sharma even before the tournament was complete.
According to some estimates, RCB lost the most money during the first season of IPL, around Rs. 43 Crores. But Shah Rukh proved to be the most business savvy among the franchise owners and his franchise was the top profit generator in IPL, an estimated net profit of Rs. 13 Crores. This number is impressive considering the fact that only 2 teams apparently made profits, the other one being the winner, Rajasthan Royals (RR). RR reportedly made a profit of Rs.6 Crore. Regardless of the performance of their teams in the first edition of IPL, they were hoping to turn around things in 2009.
But the IPL-Season 2 has started on a wrong note for both RCB and KKR. Before the start of the new season, both Mallya and Shah Rukh made several changes to their franchises. Both were not happy with their respective team captains. Mallya sacked his captain, Rahul Dravid, and replaced him with Kevin Pietersen, whom Mallya bought for a whopping Rs.6.61 Crore. Unfortunately for Mallya, at the end of 5 matches, RCB occupies the bottom of the points table. RCB won only one of their 5 matches and have a huge challenge in getting to the semi-finals. The gamble of buying the costliest player in IPL has not out worked well so far.
KKR has only done marginally better than RCB. Like RCB, KKR has also only won only 1 out of their 5 matches, but have an extra point from a match washed away by rain. Shah Rukh and his franchise coach, John Buchanan, are trying a new strategy of multiple-captains and this has not gone down with the fans of the local hero and captain, Saurav Ganguly. KKR has been moving from one controversy to another since then. First, Gavaskar criticized KKR’s multiple-captains theory and Shah Rukh fired back at Gavaskar. Ganguly’s fans think this is a conspiracy to sideline Saurav and sent hate mails to Shah Rukh. Shah Rukh being a shrewd businessman, must be aware that controversy is always good. Controversy can generate more TV viewership for his franchise matches which means more advertisement revenue and surprise (not really), more profit!!
But the biggest news related to KKR has nothing to do with its performance in the field. Rather, it relates to a blog that goes by the name Fake IPL player. (If you haven’t already heard or read his blog, here is the link for you – http://fakeiplplayer.blogspot.com/ ).
The “Fake IPL player” is apparently someone in the KKR team who gets to play very little cricket. He blogs about the team’s inside news and bashes the franchise-management in a very sarcastic tone. This did not go well with Shah Rukh and Buchanan and they tried different ways to plug the leakage of inside news. They banned laptops, wireless and whatever technology is available for blogging in the team dressing room, but to no avail.
The latest news that KKR is sending back two senior players, Sanjay Bangar and Akash Chopra, to India has raised the speculation that these were the people blogging as Fake IPL Player. But Fake IPL player’s latest blog suggests that it is not the case. So, the hunt for Fake IPL player is still on.
Fake IPL player may be a big headache for KKR, but cricket fans love his blogs. The internet forums are active with discussions about Fake IPL player and on an average, each of his blog posts get thousands of comments. But the mystery regarding his identity continues.
Both KKR and RCB have 9 matches left in the tournament and we will have to wait and see if either of them can put up a better performance in the remaining matches. Will Mallya and Shah Rukh have the last laugh?
PS: The following are my pick of teams to reach the IPL semi-finals.
- Mumbai Indians
- Deccan Chargers
- Delhi Daredevils
- King’s XI Punjab
What is yours?
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