In a sequence from the famous movie “Jungle Beauty”, Goga Kapoor sits gloatingly on a chair and opens an auction for the choicest of “jungle beauties”. Clad in their bare essentials, they turn round and round, as a group of eager bidders stand expectantly surveying what’s on offer. Then Goga Kapoor thunders,
” Doston, yeh jungle ki naageenein woh bulbule hain jinki saanson main phoolon ki mahek, badan mein haowoon ke taazgi, aur chaal main jharnon ki rawaangi hai…aap log husn aur jawaani ke jahuri boliye is naagein ki kya keemat lagate hain?”
I have always thought that the IPL auctions should start with these amazingly poetic lines, if only to set the mood and context. But then the world rarely goes the way I want it to. Instead it starts off with Sidhu Paaji, the man whom I lovingly refer to as “the Adolf Eichmann of the English language”, announcing that the hammer is going to descend.
And the Queen, bless and God save her, is pregnant. Whatever the eff that means.
The player auctions for IPL 4.0 was held today.
It had drama. Last minute bids were being squeezed in just as the auction-master said “Sold”. The Kochi team kept making calls to the Gulf, presumably for more remittances. Vijay Mallaya suddenly lost it, like the “off with his head” Queen of Hearts act, claiming “unfairness” on the part of the auctioneer. As that happened, on cue, SET Max developed technical problems as the comforting face of Sunny Deol assured us that there was nothing violent going on.
It had beauty. Zinta keeping up her “I am an American teenage girl and I can’t make up my mind as to which doll I want” act which passes off as “bubliness”. Shilpa Shetty wearing a plastic smile throughout, as clueless as Inzamam Ul Haq in a lecture on literary allusions in James Joyce’s Ulyesses. The Deccan Chargers table throwing up sparks of electric charge.
It had moments of anguish, at least for fans like me. Great players were not bought and some others grossly undervalued, moments that made me want to shout, like Goga Kapoor “Ladki khadeene aaye yaah unke liye kaapde”?
When the dust had settled, what was left was the fact that a whole lot of greens had just passed hands. Or as Kapil Sibal would call it, a mere computation error.
The most talked about news of the night was the fact that Ganguly had not been bid for at USD 400,000. Dada might not be the same Dada who charged a firing -on-all-cylinders Shaun Pollock and sent the ball flying over point boundary or put holes in the ozone layer with those massive sixes. But he was still one of IPL’s top batsmen last season and in a loser franchise, was a proven multiple match-winner. He still brings passion and pride of performance to his game plus that amazing cricketing brain is something too precious not to be of use to even a single franchise. And at the very least, even if you cut off an arm and a leg, he would still be a better player than a USD 900K Ravindra Jadeja.
That Knight Riders (or is it Kolkata Knight Riders—-since BCCI still lists them as Kolkata) would not retain him was anticipated. Shahrukh Khan had a well-known problem with Dada after he allegedly refused to convince the CPM government, with which he is perceived to be cozy, to waive West Bengal’s entertainment tax waived for IPL and I think he believes he can get the Eden crowd on his side through victories even without Dada on the roster. Or perhaps he wants to move to Cuttack. Or Dhaka. In which case he can stay in Kolkata, since with the number of migrants we have from Bangladesh, it will become Dhaka in a few years, if not already.
Whatever KKR’s reasons be, what was surprising was that nobody else wanted Dada either, not even Subroto Roy. The reason for that could simply be his reputation of “being his own man” and maybe none of the franchises (most with Australian coaches) wanted him as a captain. Which honestly is the only way to play Dada. Otherwise he is not worth the money.
There were other shockers too of course, besides Sidhu saying “The power belongs to the man with the beard”. One of these was that there was no one bid for Gayle. It seemed pre-decided,almost as if the man was from Pakistan. Well if he was from Pakistan at least the KKR table would have wrung their hands, trembled their lips and said “Agar Pakistan se pyaar karna gunaah hai….to hain…hain…hain….”. But even they sat impassive. Where there problems with his availability? If there is a problem with West Indian cricketers, how come Pollard was retained by Mumbai and Bravo also bought when no one, in their right mind, can doubt Gayle’s value as a T20 player. Among other surprises was Uthappa and Rohit Sharma being valued almost same as Gambhir and Yusuf Pathan. Jadeja and Piyush Chawla’s obscenely high price tag. The prospect of Symonds and Bhajji in the same dressing room, monkeying around. Most shocking of course was that KKR made just own howler in their bidding, making three solid buys and two borderline buys, a sharp departure from their past record of being Nigerian-scammed every auction night.
[In a subsequent post, once the bids are all in, will do an analysis of the performance of every franchise in the whole auction process]
This was the first time I actually watched the auctions live on TV. It was thrilling, more thrilling than the competition perhaps will be, so much so that I stayed awake the whole night. In a way this interest was natural. Because the bidding IS the real IPL, the heart of its darkness.
The games that follow it are simply the post-script, the sound of the flush after the deed has been done.