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Srini shows up to prove a point

Bangalore, Feb. 12: It’s business as usual for Narayanswamy Srinivasan, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president, and soon-to-be chairman of the International Cricket Council.

The Justice Mukul Mudgal committee has put Srinivasan’s son-in-law, Gurunath Meiyappan, in the dock, but he remains unfazed. Reacting just the way he did last summer, when the scandal involving Meiyappan and Chennai Super Kings (CSK) broke.

To make a point, Srinivasan arrived here in the afternoon and came to the hotel where the IPL auction was in progress. He stayed away from the proceedings but had a 20-minute meeting with the eight franchise owners.

“The media is after Srinivasan, not anybody else. He had to show that he’s in absolute control and that the Justice Mudgal report hasn’t changed his routine one bit,” somebody senior in the BCCI told The Telegraph.

Srinivasan is certainly in control: there were enough men from the BCCI to pay obeisance, a peculiarly Indian tradition.

The meeting with the owners, one understands, was to ascertain their “views” in case IPL VII has to be shifted partly or wholly out of India.

That’s a strong possibility as there could well be a clash of dates with the upcoming general election.

Justice Mudgal’s report, it may be recalled, will be taken up by the Supreme Court on March 7. Plenty of time, then, for the legal teams employed by the BCCI and CSK to get their act right.

But even if it’s business as usual for Srinivasan, almost everybody who attended the media sessions during/after the day’s auction, had to face questions on the Justice Mudgal report.

“It happens in every sport. We wouldn’t have been around if we weren’t excited about the IPL, if we weren’t committed to the IPL. Brand IPL has been growing in value.

“The core of the IPL is strong and we need to protect it,” said Vijay Mallya, owner of the Royal Challengers Bangalore, which is emerging as the most explosive team.

Former India captain Rahul Dravid, who is the Rajasthan Royals’ mentor, conceded there were “challenges for everyone”.

“There are good people in the system and the IPL is a good product. A lot of good has come out of it,” Dravid maintained.

Pretty Preity Zinta, co-owner of Kings XI Punjab, had a refreshingly different take. “I see it (Justice Mudgal’s report) positively. If something’s wrong, it’s an opportunity to set it right. The truth will come out.”

Preity, by the way, described herself as “Lady Luck”, when coach Sanjay Bangar made a mention while reviewing an excellent day for the franchise.

Former New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming, who is CSK’s head coach, didn’t go into specifics, but made the point that there was “pressure on everybody”.

Ranjib Biswal, the IPL chairman, clarified that reports which spoke of six Indian cricketers having to be investigated for fixing were “incorrect”.

For most, it’s fingers crossed.


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