WHILE MANY of the Indian Premier League (IPL) franchisees have announced their respective team's name, captains, coaches and even some of their domestic signings, the Mumbai team — owned by Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) — has remained tight-lipped about most of the issues.
However, with less than two months to go for the IPL gala, R Balachandran, President and Chief Marketing Officer of the Reliance Retail Limited, who is a key figure in RIL's IPL team, agreed to talk about their plans in an exclusive interview with the Hindustan Times.
On RIL's decision to venture into the IPL
We look at it as means to contribute to Indian sports. It was not a difficult decision to take a plunge into the IPL since cricket has a very strong emotional connect with the people of India.
On the business aspect of owning an IPL team
The amount involved, that is 111.9 million USD, is a very big in terms of cricket, but for us as a business entity it's not such a huge investment. And more importantly, when you look at the time span of 10 years for which the amount has to be invested for owning a team, the perspective changes completely. When you think you have to pay close to Rs 45 crore per year only for the team rights, you start looking at it very differently. Also, it is in a sense a very unique business opportunity since there are immediate returns guaranteed through the form of television rights.
On Wednesday's player auction
If you ask me whether we got those we wished for, on a scale of 10, I would say we got eight. And in an auction it is a reasonable figure. It was our iconic player's (Sachin Tendulkar's) wishlist. And if you look at the eight players we have on board so far, the crux of the squad is formed. We have the world's most lethal opening combination (in Tendulkar and Sanath Jayasuriya). Then we have Shaun Pollock who is one of the best all-rounders. And then we have a couple of surprise packages, which will be known to you very soon.
On whether Tendulkar would be leading the Mumbai team
I cannot comment on it now. All I would say is that the Mumbai team will revolve around him. He is the nucleus of the team. And everything else is a mere formality.
On whether Lalchand Rajput is set to become the coach
We are in the process of finalising a coach. You will get to know it in due course.
On the name of the team
It is also being finalised. You will get to know it to shortly.
On the likely duration before all these things are finalised
If you see, the final of the tournament is just 14 to 15 weeks away. So it's not even a matter of weeks, it's a matter of days now. All these announcements will be made very soon.
On whether the Mumbai team's home matches will be played at the Brabourne stadium or the Dr DY Patil stadium in Navi Mumbai
We have to play our home games in one of the three stadiums in Mumbai. This year, since Wankhede is unavailable, we will play at either of the two other stadiums. As things stand, we are considering both the options.
On whether the seven home games can be split between the two stadiums
If you ask me whether it can happen, yes, it can happen. But as of now, we haven't finalised anything.