The frantic clamour for Venugopal Rao at the last moment made one thing clear. The Delhi Daredevils were desperate to buy a middle-order batsman after having lost Tillakaratne Dilshan, AB de Villiers, Gautam Gambhir and Dinesh Karthik to others.
According to the team management, they had gone in with a set purpose of buying foreign batsmen and all-rounders who could fit into the T20 format and could also come cheap. They wanted to free up as much budget as possible for the reshuffle.
Their star middle-order bats eluded them because of the prices they commanded.
"They (Gambhir, Karthik, AB and Dilshan) are good players. We were waiting to make the bid, but their prices spiralled so much that they didn't fit into our plans," said a team source.
Naman Ojha (R1.2cr) and Andrew McDonald (R 36 lakh) seem to be good buys but the price for Irfan (R 8.74 cr) may seem a lot. "Well, IPL is not just about cricket. It is commerce too. Irfan, apart from Sehwag, will bring in that star value. He is a handy player too." With many stars, including ace NZ spinner Daniel Vettori, going out, Daredevils could have been struggling for stars. Virender Sehwag is the only star left after the departure of half a dozen big names.
While the batting line-up is foreign, the bowling is mostly Indian.
Proteas fast bowler Morne Morkel will lead the attack. The Daredevils lost Dirk Nannes and Vettori, both of whom went to Bangalore for between Rs 2-3 crore each.
Though there is no official word from the sponsors about the impact that the absence of Gambhir and other stars will have, a couple that HT spoke to said there shouldn't be any problems. "You still have Sehwag in Delhi and he is a massive and colossal name. I don't think there'll be any loss in fan following. Besides, DD is building as a brand," said an official of a sponsor.