A self proclaimed high brow news channel’s top presenter was interviewing
Mr. Dr. Vijay Mallya on his bid for Kevin Pietersen at the 2nd edition of the IPL auction. The first statement which was made was something to the tune of ‘Everyone always knew you would get KP into your side Dr. Mallya’ with unmasked admiration in the presenter’s tone. Dr. Mallya smilled laconically (as laconic as on can get under that beard) at the statement, his ego suitably massaged and I switched away from the channel.
It was the same Dr. Mallya who has been in news recently over pledging of a decent chunk of his shares in the UB group. The Kingfisher Airline is on the verge of being grounded as the state run oil marketing companies are threatening to pull the plug on their ATF supplies. One may still argue that the KP buy need not be looked at in tandem with his other business ventures. That it is in the Royal Challengers’ interest. With the captain (?) Rahul Dravid already under pressure for a place in the team and Mallya hinting at KP being considered for captaincy (a man who lost 5-0 in India and was fired by his selectors), there is going to be tremendous turmoil in the team in the near future.
One suspects though, that it was ‘brand KP’ that attracted Mallya with his super sized playboy image. He found his own mirror image in KP and he knew that he had to buy KP, come what may. He had already got the flambouyant Uthappa transferred from Mumbai in exchange for Zaheer Khan. KP would make the change from a supposedly dour, boring team (RD, Kallis, Chanderpaul, Jaffer) into an exciting one, complete.
If one looks back at the auction, this open desire of Dr. Mallya to have KP in his team cost him USD 200K more. Dr. Mallya started off the bid at 1.35MM.. one could clearly see that no other team had any real interest in KP, especially as Freddie had gone for USD 1.55MM earlier. Then Rajasthan Royals put in a bid at USD 1.45MM. Now it was an open secret in the auction room that the RR bid was just to make Dr. Mallya pay higher. And as a smart businessman all one had to do was not to hike the RR bid. The RR bid was a bluff which cried out to be called. Imagine what problems the RRs would face if KP went to their team. Warne has already talked about getting an increment on the paltry sum that he was bought for last year. KP getting 4-5 times his fees would have been interesting. Add to this volatile mixture, Graeme Smith and you would have a potential money spinning reality show on your hands.
Lalit Modi has famously announced that IPL is free from the dreaded ‘R’ word. The IPL II results haven’t been convincing enough. The same day that KP was bought at the astronomical sum, Kingfisher Airlines announced a cut in its pilots salary by Rs. 80k per month. Welcome to the bad times!!!
Posted by Rahul