IPL's 4th season has started at the back end of cricket world cup and clearly looks like a cricket over kill. It is like subjecting Indian fans to a stress test to check the amount of cricket they can take. Having said that IPL is more action packed and there is always something which keep you entertained and hence it is difficult to ignore it. Now that I can't stay completely away from it, I am slowly trying to check out which team I should support.
All the team is dawning a new look due to players reshuffle following January auction. The teams have followed two distinct trend. Successful teams like CSK and MI did not take chances and opted to retain at least 3 players of the previous team – a conscious effort to preserve the core of the team. CSK also went great length to pull back other players like Ashwin and Badrinath. Other teams like KXIP (Punjab) and KKR choose to under go a complete revamp due to their poor show in previous outings and understandably so.
RR and RCB were exception to this norm as their management interestingly choose to go against the popular logic. RR which had poor show in previous two outings still choose to preserve its key players. This shows a confidence in their set of players and sticking with them even when team is not doing particularly well. This was heartening to see.
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On the other hand, RCB, a club I supported, did the unthinkable. It went for a complete revamp even with its good performances in last two outings. It only retented of Virat Kohli of all the players which is quite surprising even with his known abilities. This revamp meant that it lost almost all key local players – Kumble, Dravid, Uthappa, Pandey, Vinay. Mithun was the only local player reclaimed in auction, who as per me was one of the least important players.
Uthappa was an impact player and was lost to new team from Pune for a big price. Dravid and Vinay were scooped up by RR and KT for not too huge a price. Kumble did not want to play for any other team due to personal constraints and had to take up voluntary retirement. If the management's did not want to pay hefty price for retaining these players before auction they should have at least gone an extra mile to retain some of these players in the auction. The fate handed over to Kumble was most upsetting as he leader who turned around a team which was at its lowest ebb and he was willing to play another season. Only good thing about this rewamp for the fans is that now they can see a Uthappa vs Vinay or a Dravid vs Mithun which would not have been possible if they all played for RCB. The biggest loss being absense of Kumble and Mr.Mallya is responsible for this.
IPL draws its power from strong local support and its not because of the name. Fans follow players and player retention ensures fan following and subsequent growth. This is true for non local players as well, Dhoni is one such example. What RCB has done is to let go of its players, esp. locals and hence there is a fan base erosion. It is difficult to fathom the big picture of RCB, at least for now. The fact for now is that with all these players gone, RCB has become a team without a soul. No wonder I don't feel bad when they loose now.