Kolkata: The gamble with Gautam Gambhir in the 2011 auction, who was responsible for the turnaround in Kolkata Knight Riders’ fortunes after the nightmarish start to their IPL journey, remains one of the most cherished memories of their CEO Venky Mysore.
After struggling for the first three seasons of the IPL from 2008-2010, the KKR management decided to release all their players including Sourav Ganguly, the ‘icon’ player and a cult figure in his city Kolkata. A tough call, in which Mysore - then a newcomer to the IPL fraternity from his corporate avatar - had his part in it and looked back at the decision with a sense of satisfaction.
Remembering the 2011 auction in an interactive session with the KKR fans, where they announced their plans for a ‘mock auction,’ Mysore said: ‘‘Those days, the salary cap for the team was $ US nine million as the auction used to take place in dollars. It was a two-day auction for the new cycle and on the first day itself, we had ended up spending $ 5.7 million on Gambhir, Yousuf Pathan and Jacques Kallis. We were then wondering what to do on the second day with not much purse left.’’
Gambhir, who emerged as one of the heroes of India’s World Cup triumph that year, fetched a record price tag of $ 2.4 million and went on to lead the franchise to two titles in 2012 and 2014 and became synonymous with the franchise during his six-year association as a captain. ‘‘Gautam’s name was the first one which came up in that auction and we went for it instintively,’’ Mysore said.
With the mega auction due on February 12-13 in Bengaluru for a 10-team IPL this year, the interest level is slowly building up and to give the fans a closer look at the auction process, KKR have launched the ‘KKR Mock Auction,’ an exercise which will allow their fans to experience the workings of an actual IPL auction. Five lucky winners of the mock auction will get a chance to interact with KKR’s think tank (comprising of head coach Brendon McCullum, mentor Abhishek Nayar and Mysore among others) to discuss their suggestions for the Knights’ 2022 squad.
“The Mock Auction is yet another step towards our commitment of bringing the game closer to our fans. There is a lot of curiosity among the fans about the auction process, and it’s great that they get an opportunity to participate and engage with people who are a crucial part of the actual auction. It would be amazing to see the suggestions shared by our fans, and I look forward to interacting with them during this process”, said Mysore.
To prepare the fans for the mock auction, KKR’s think tank will be giving out two Masterclass Lessons (on January 29 & 31) via live sessions on the franchise’s social media channels explaining the working dynamics of an IPL auction.
The entries will have to be sent via a video, of which the top 30 will be selected. These selected fans will form 10 teams of three people each, and fight it out in the rounds designed for the mock auction.
Incidentally, the four players retained by KKR for the 2022 season are Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Venkatesh Iyer and Varun Chakravarthy.