Rahul Johri, the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s CEO, was “isolated” during Tuesday’s auction for the 12th edition of the IPL, next year.
According to top sources of The Telegraph, Johri wanted to both sit on the podium and deliver the inaugural address, at the JW Marriott Resort and Spa on NH 11.
As it turned out, Johri was unable to do either. It’s significant that he’d recently faced an inquiry into allegations of sexual harassment.
It couldn’t be confirmed, but one gathers Johri left the venue for the airport “at least an hour” before the completion of the auction.
The inaugural address was given by Supreme Court-appointed Administrator Diana Edulji and the auction was “thrown open” by the Board’s acting secretary, Amitabh Choudhary.
Neither Diana nor Choudhary made any mention of Johri from the podium.
Apparently, on Monday night, Johri had “indicated” to some that he wouldn’t sit on the podium but would deliver the inaugural address as the IPL is currently without a governing council and its chairman.
[The inaugural address would always be given by the governing council’s chairman.]
Word about Johri’s plans got around to Diana, Board acting president Chandra Kishore Khanna, Choudhary and treasurer Anirudh Chaudhry.
It’s not clear whether there was a ‘meeting’ between the quartet, but all obviously felt that while Johri may have got a 2-1 verdict from the inquiry committee, he should be kept away from a global audience as the auction has viewership across continents.
The “action,” as one of the top sources put it, took place in the last five minutes before the 3.30 pm start of proceedings.
Diana made it clear that, being one of the two Administrators, she would deliver the inaugural address. Almost simultaneously, it seems, one of the office-bearers removed a chair from the podium.
Johri must have been taken aback, but with the live telecast about to begin, he could actually do nothing.
Diana and the three office-bearers sat on the podium (possibly also one of the nominees of the title sponsors).
That’s not all: Johri’s name wasn’t on the list to pick any of the names/numbers.
No wonder Johri left before the end of the auction, not even staying back for the official dinner.
Clearly, Johri would try to get even and his biggest backer, chief Administrator Vinod Rai, too would work out something to further marginalise Diana and the office-bearers.
Tuesday, however, was their day.
To talk of the auction, unknown/little-known players made a killing, while one-time T20 champion Yuvraj Singh went unsold in the first round.
It was only in Round II that the Mumbai Indians bought Yuvraj at his base price of Rs 1 crore. He’d been released by the Kings XI Punjab.
Three uncapped players, all of them from India, feature in the top-10 most expensive buys.
The biggest shocker was Tamil Nadu’s ‘mystery’ bowler Varun Chakravarthy being bought by the Kings XI for a mind-boggling Rs 8.4 crore, joint No.1 with Jaydev Unadkat (Rajasthan Royals).
Mumbai’s Shivam Dube, an all-rounder known to clear the ground, went to the Royal Challengers Bangalore for Rs 5 crore; U-19 ’keeper Prabhsimran Singh of Punjab was bought by the heavy-spending Kings XI.
Best buy? On paper, it has to be England all-rounder Sam Curran. He’ll be wearing the Kings XI colours.
The franchises went into the auction without knowing (a) whether a segment of the 2019 IPL would be moved out owing to the general elections and (b) if that does happen, would the caravan relocate to South Africa or to the UAE?
South Africa hosted the entire 2009 edition, while some matches were held in the UAE in 2014.
The franchises, therefore, have tried to “cover all bases.”
Choudhary pointed out that the Board would make a “more determined effort” to ensure that IPL XII remains in India.
Clarity is, of course, needed on what exactly is meant by the Board in the present times.