Politics and the recession have hit Shah Rukh Khan’s plans for his Kolkata team in IPL Season 2 — his Pakistani players, Shoaib Akhtar and Salman Butt, cannot play in India; and he does not have enough extra cash to buy other top-rated players.
However, SRK is always an optimist. “I hope Kolkata be the winner this time,” he said. “I also wish the Delhi team well,” he graciously added on Wednesday’s visit to the Capital to launch Tag Heuer’s Carrera Calibre 16.
That’s not cricket! Later in the evening, SRK had a meeting with teammates John Buchanan and Sourav Ganguly. “We have a good set-up,” he said. “We have Ricky Ponting, Chris Gayle, Ishant Sharma. It should be a good season — as long as all these guys play.” The absence of Akhtar and Butt will be keenly felt, though, especially as the embargo is a big financial burden. “I don’t know which board took this decision. They may have thought ‘Thodasa... achha nahi lagega’. But unfortunately, they [the IPL board] won’t allow the money meant for the Pakistani players to be utilised in buying new players. This is a little unfair.”
It has made things difficult. “We don’t have much money left,” he said. “We couldn’t bid for expensive players like Kevin Pietersen. Their starting salaries are, like, 1.3 million dollars. We’ve already spent that.” His cheerleader talent hunt will, however, be big, SRK tells us. It will show people that “it’s not just about dancing with pom-poms” and that the girls totally “deserve respect” for their hard work.