There was relief on Sourav Ganguly’s face. Currently doing commentary for India's series in Australia, he was relieved that the team had finally won a game.
“That is why I'm here,” the former India skipper beamed. Ganguly will add to the Pune Warriors’ brains trust when they, along with eight other franchises, bid for players in Saturday's auction for the fifth edition of the IPL.
The great Indian cricket depression in Australia might have dismayed millions of fans, but it will be business as usual at a Bangalore five-star hotel for owners of the lucrative league. The auction will briefly take away attention from animated discussions on India's miserable run in Australia, and turn the focus on the IPL, to be held from April 4 to May 27.
The franchises didn't seem overly concerned about India's poor run or the mild economic setback resulting from it. "I don't see that affecting the mood among the franchises. This is not just cricket; this is cricket plus entertainment," a senior official of a franchise told HT.
None of the owners came for the customary auction-eve briefing by the IPL authorities on Friday, pointing to the relatively low-key affair it is expected to be this time around. The big auction having taken place last year, this one would largely be about players left stranded after the BCCI terminated the Kochi Tuskers' contract following breach of terms of agreement.
And the man whose name is on everyone's lips is the 23-year-old Saurashtra all-rounder, Ravindra Jadeja, who played for Kochi last season and is expected to fetch the highest price this time around.
Out of the 147 names that had been finalised till Friday, the franchises are expected to select only one-fifth of the players. Wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel, paceman Vinay Kumar, New Zealand opener Brendon McCullum and Sri Lanka skipper Mahela Jayawardene, who played for Kochi last year, are expected to fetch good money. But VVS Laxman, whose fortunes have dipped, may go unsold.Six of the franchises have the full $2 million purse to spend, but this time it will be about correcting the ‘mistakes’ of last year.