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HindustanTimes Thu,21 Aug 2014

Cricket

Lights, camera, controversies: IPL 7 gears up for auction
Sanjjeev K Samyal, Hindustan Times
Bangalore, February 12, 2014
First Published: 01:05 IST(12/2/2014)
Last Updated: 08:37 IST(12/2/2014)

How N Srinivasan can be held accountable for the actions of his son-in-law is debatable, but the issue of ‘conflict of interest’ is an allegation that has been levelled against the Indian cricket board chief ever since the India Cements group, headed by him, decided to buy the Chennai franchisee in the Indian Premier League.

The other teams have had a grouse about the Chennai Super Kings having an advantage because of Srinivasan’s powerful position in the Board of Control for Cricket in India. It can make a difference in the auction if one team has prior knowledge of important facts by which they can plan their buys.

Read: Interesting to note there is evidence to move forward

This time the sequence in which the players will be put up for auction has been announced much in advance and it will allow the franchisee owners to plan their bids. However, in the last big auction held, ahead of the 2011 IPL, the fixed sequence was not followed, leading to heartburn among the franchises. It was felt that the teams with influence in the Board would be the only ones to know the exact line-up.

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For Wednesday, there is another issue which has caused anxiety among the other franchises. With the dates of the General Elections to clash with the IPL, the venue of the tournament is not announced. It is difficult to host it in India as the government may not be in a position to guarantee security arrangements.

In the know
In this case, only the top Board officials will have an idea of the alternate plans. In a sport where the conditions matter so much, the team aware of the venue will naturally be better placed to go for the right players. If it’s South Africa, then it suits to have players who are good at playing pace and handle bounce, like South Africans and Australians. And, if it’s in the subcontinent then players who are good against spin could be better boys, like the Sri Lankans.

Last week, the Kolkata Knight Riders CEO Venky Mysore had told the media that his team would plan their buys with the idea that the event will be played in India.

The Board’s dilemma is that before the election dates are announced, they can’t take a final call. However, the teams’ with inside information will naturally be at an advantage.

Irrespective of whether any action will be taken based on the findings of the Mudgal IPL Probe Committee, one thing is certain that the credibility of the high-profile Twenty20 League has been hit big time. What effect it will have on the tournament and the teams in the eye of the storm, CSK and Rajasthan Royals, remains to be seen. So far, every event has usually been dominated by CSK. In this auction, which is the biggest since 2008, all eyes are again on CSK but they are unlikely to have the same aura. Royals will be equally subdued.

Others’ reaction
Overall, they will be wary of the reaction from the other franchises. Apart from the Board members, the only other group which can exert pressure on the erring teams is the fellow franchise owners, who will be directly affected by the fallout of the controversy. The franchises had a platform to voice their reservations on the eve of the auction when all had come together for a briefing from the IPL committee members. However, no one is reacting to the situation as of now. “Nothing can be said on the basis of what the report says, things will be clearer only after  Supreme Court gives its verdict (hearing on March 7),” a team official said.

The last time the auction was held, Gurunath Meiyappan was the face of the CSK table and Raj Kundra-Shilpa Shetty of the Rajasthan table. Their absence will be conspicuous.

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