IPL Delhi had three options for each cricketer, own cap

February 29th, 2008 - 2:28 pm ICT by admin  

By Qaiser Mohammad Ali
New Delhi, Feb 29 (IANS) GMR Group, the owners of the Indian Premier League (IPL) Delhi team, approached the cricketers’ auction with a sound strategy - three options for each player they bid, a self-imposed monetary cap on each bid, and not to target current and unavailable Australians. The GMR bidding team was also determined to get at least two in-form local players - batsman Gautam Gambhir and latest pace bowling sensation Ishant Sharma.

Disclosing this to IANS, former India off-spinner Aashish Kapoor, who is part of the bidding think-tank of the infrastructure giant, said the bidding was a quick-thinking strategy and despite three options every round saw a change in the line of attack.

“We had put a self-imposed cap on every player that we had bid for. We did not attempt to get any Australians as we knew that they would not be available next year because of the Ashes series in England,” he said, referring to the first ever auction in the game’s history held in Mumbai Feb 20.

Eight franchise owners bid for 75 players at the auction. There were five icon players in different teams and they received 15 percent more than the highest bid player in their side.

GMR bought the Delhi franchise for $84 million for 10 years and spent well over $4.9 million on buying the players for the 45-day Twenty20 tournament starting April 18.

Kapoor, who played four Tests and 17 One-Day Internationals in 1990s, said he and T.A. Sekhar, a former India pacer and now GMR’s cricket operations chief, essentially prepared the players’ list for the auction.

“For 10 days before the auction, we were scratching our heads and being colleagues at the MRF helped us,” said the affable Chennai-based Kapoor, a qualified coach who still plays in the local league.

He said Pakistan captain and all-rounder Shoaib Malik was among their preferred choices.

“He has a brilliant Twenty20 batting average of 47 in 26 (domestic) matches. We also needed a spinner and we went for New Zealander Daniel Vettori. Though we did not have him in our list, he is a good bargain and will be available for six games this season,” he said.

Each team will play seven games on home and away basis.

“We also wanted Ishant Sharma, but he was presented with the last group of players for the auction when the IPL-imposed upper cap of $5 million was a factor for us as we also had to calculate what we would have to pay to our icon player Virender Sehwag.”

He pointed out that had Ishant been presented first, GMR would have definitely gone for him.

From next year there will be no cap as teams will be free to buy, sell or transfer players among themselves like they do with professional footballers overseas and the National Basketball Association players in the United States.

“We did not go for the Australians, though as an exception we bid for Cameron White, who is a terrific Twenty20 player. He has smashed two centuries in domestic cricket and captained Victoria to Twenty20 national championship in January. We lost him as we had fixed the cap at $400,000 for him,” said Kapoor.

Cameron eventually went to Bangalore for $500,000.

One reason for GMR not buying expensive players in early stages of the auction was that it desperately wanted left-hander Gambhir, who was presented in the seventh and penultimate round.

“We wanted to keep money for Gambhir and we got him (for $725,000),” he said.

One player that GMR missed was South African Albie Morkel, who was presented in the sixth round and was bought by Chennai for $675,000 - their second most expensive purchase along with Kiwi Jacob Oram.

Kapoor also disclosed that they had doubts over the fitness of Pakistani fast bowler Mohammad Asif, but that was cleared after Sekhar spoke to fitness experts in Pakistan who know Asif well.

According to Kapoor, the average age of the Delhi Daredevils is 22-23 years.

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