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T20, Vijay Mallya & corporate Ire


Dravid and Charu get a thorough pounding for the Challengers' wretched showing in IPL
SATISH CHAPPARIKE | Issue Dated: May 25, 2008
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T20, Vijay Mallya &  corporate Ire Rahul Dravid's troubles may just have begun. First he failed to perform as captain and batsman in IPL T20. Now there is a very real possibility of him being unceremoniously dumped by Bangalore Royal Challengers owner Vijay Mallya, who is totally distraught with his team's performance.

Mallya complained in a television interview this week that his captain and CEO Charu Sharma, sacked for the team's pathetic showing, did not allow him to bid for the right players. For his part, Dravid agreed that the team had failed to perform according to expectations, and that his employer had "reasons to be upset". Speaking in his own defence he claimed that the number of runs he notched wasn't the determining factor in a T20 tie. Said Dravid, "Sometimes twenty runs are all you need to give the innings momentum."

His point is taken. But as batsman Dravid seemed woefully out of form for the T20 format. With just two wins from nine matches, the Challengers are right at the bottom of the table. And there is little chance of them turning the tables on their opponents anytime soon.

Mallya's friends defend his outburst, arguing that as owner of an IPL franchise he has every right to have whom he wants and show non-performers the door. Others, however, say he is bound in the long haul to pay for over-reacting, and his too public denunciation of his own men. His "unsporting" comments are said to have touched a raw nerve everywhere in the cricketing fraternity – including his own team members, who privately decry their boss's persistent bullying. As a senior member of the team told TSI, "Mallya may have invested hundreds of crores on us but he must realise that this is cricket, not a corporate office. Here the rules of the game are very different from achieving corporate triumphs."

Mallya and his corporate bunch disagree vehemently. "There is certainly a very definite corporate side to IPL," they fumed. "This is not the traditional cricket we have had so far. Winning has got to be the bottomline wherever such huge investments are made. There is just no place for compulsive losers."

Most see this as a direct dig at Charu Sharma's management of the Challengers' corporate strategy, and his behaviour following their ignominious defeat. Insiders say Mallya and company had repeatedly urged Charu to constantly supervise the team's day-to-day affairs, such as which team was the best bet for any particular tie. They also wanted him to let Misbah-ul Haq bat for the team.

But Charu's supporters say he was right to valiantly resist such pressures and insist that the team be left undisturbed; and they are all deeply critical of the "cynically orchestrated" move that led to the CEO's "shocking exit". Charu Sharma responded with matching sarcasm. In another email statement he said, "Let us not forget that the team is still out there…on the road…doing its best, trying to improve match after match. The last thing they need is any further distraction on the field."

The appointment of his successor, KSCA Secretary Brijesh Patel, is being likewise condemned as a pre-planned corporate move. According to the KSCA President Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wadiyar, who incidentally is a close friend of the liquor baron, the whole idea is to enable Mallya to make an entry into the KSCA and secure a hold on the BCCI. Patel predictably declined comment when asked whether having him in had improved the Challengers' winning prospects; he merely gave a corporate smile and walked away.
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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017