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Mallya plainspeak vs SRK's SMS support

While B'lore’s poor run led Mallya into questioning the team selection, Khan is telling his boys “it’s not the end of the world”. Atreyo Mukhopadhyay reports.
Hindustan Times | By Atreyo Mukhopadhyay, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAY 23, 2008 03:54 AM IST

Some hire and fire and some inspire. Vijay Mallya and Shah Rukh Khan present such a stark study in contrast in the Indian Premier League (IPL).

While Bangalore’s poor run has shaken the liquor baron into sacking CEO Charu Sharma and questioning the team selection, Khan is telling his boys “it’s not the end of the world” and that a new dawn may be around the corner. Before and after most matches, Khan has been sending inspirational text messages to the Kolkata players.

“Even after every defeat, we got really long messages (one running into as long as 20 texts) from Khan, saying we must not lose hope, that things will change as long as we keep fighting,” said a player. “There are no discouraging words, no criticism. He’s all about how to turn the tide.”

Said another: “All texts end with ‘lov, SRK’. He’s told us we’re like his children and how can you not love your kids? He asked us to win for him before the game in Mumbai, saying it was his city. But even when we lost badly, he told us not to despair. At other times, he’s sent us a traditional prayer of hope in Arabic, asking for help from God and praying for victory to be near.”

Another time, apparently, Khan told them he would not be with them because of International Cricket Council restrictions and if anyone indicated it was for any other reason, they should not pay attention. Another time, he told them that despite their loss, he would still teach them a new dance step (he reportedly enjoys showing them a new step after every game).

Khan’s management style, his approachability to even the lesser-known faces in the team and his affectionate handling of them has had many of his players move from being simply awestruck to adulating the man.

In marked contrast, Mallya’s management of his beleaguered team has been one of IPL’s more unfortunate stories. One Khan text, incidentally, has a reference to this perhaps, when he says that he hopes they know he’s “not the kind of owner who has issues” with the team because they lose.

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