Sidhartha Mallya is thoroughly enjoying his maiden stint as team director of Indian Premier League team, Royal Challengers Bangalore. Son of liquor baron Vijay Mallya, who owns the Bangalore-based team, Sidhartha has already made some significant decisions for the franchise, ranging from choosing the right mix of players at the auction to selecting the 'perfect' captain in Virat Kohli when regular skipper Daniel Vettori returned to New Zealand to recharge his batteries. The team are on top of IPL-IV with 19 points from their 14 league matches.
They play Qualifier No 1 against Chennai Super Kings at the Wankhede Stadium today.
The Mallya scion spoke to MiD DAY about being the 'prince' of good times and more.
What was RCB's target at the start of the season, considering this is a new-look team?
Right from the start, our target was to win the Indian Premier League-IV and that's why we went into the auction with a well thought out plan and bought exactly the kind of players who would help us achieve our goal. We were very clear that we are not here to make up the numbers.
Didn't you feel that the Karnataka/Bangalore factor was missing given Rahul Dravid is not part of your set-up this time?
There's a lot more to Bangalore and Karnataka cricket than Rahul Dravid. I don't mean to demean Rahul - he is a hero and a legend - but if you look at the local players RCB have, you will realise that they are the future of Karnataka cricket.
The Robin Uthappas, Vinay Kumars or Manish Pandeys alone don't make up Karnataka cricket. In RCB, we have some fantastic young fast bowling talent in Sreenath Aravind and Abhimanyu Mithun. Then there is Mayank Agarwal, a 20-year-old, who is a fantastic batting talent for the future. It's time we looked at the future.
Virat Kohli as captain was a sudden choice mid-way through the tournament. It is learnt that you were behind the selection...
That's true! When Dan (RCB captain Daniel Vettori) told me in Rajasthan that he won't be able to play due to a knee problem, the next name that came to my mind for RCB captaincy was Virat. To be honest, we didn't want to put pressure on him and make him captain right at the start because we felt he was just coming off a successful World Cup. We thought we'd ease him into it. I called him up one afternoon and offered him the captaincy and he jumped at the opportunity. And he has led this team perfectly since. In fact, given the sound head on his shoulders and abundance of batting talent, I think that the day Mahendra Singh Dhoni decides to give up captaincy, Virat will be the perfect replacement for him and Team India.
What's your take on the recent cheerleaders' controversy wherein one of the girls blogged about how guests misbehaved with the girls?
Again, I don't know exactly what this girl has blogged, but I believe that it's the glam quotient that makes the IPL what it is.
If you take away the cheergirls, the after-match parties, etc, then there will be no difference between an IPL match and a Ranji Trophy or a Duleep Trophy match.
So let's not even think of de-glamourising the Indian Premier League.
What are your thoughts on the other three teams in the play-offs?
Kolkata Knight Riders made a mess of it against Mumbai Indians in Sunday's match. Giving away 23 runs in the last over to lose a game is criminal. One look at Gautam's (KKR captain, Gambhir) face said it all. Mumbai Indians are a good team too, but they have been inconsistent. Finally, I believe Chennai Super Kings have a perfect balance between batting, fast bowling and spin. They are a very tough team to beat.
What has been your role as team director?
Actually, most franchises would have paid someone for the kind of job I do at RCB. I handle all the off-field marketing activities for the team. However, I must admit that I do sit for most selection and team meetings as I enjoy being part of the action. However, I do not impose anything upon Ray Jennings (coach) or Dan (Vettori) because I'm no expert in the field of cricket. Just as I would never tell Ray how to run a team, he will never tell me how to run my business.
Given the recent Rajasthan Cricket Association-Shane Warne pitch fiasco, have you ever faced any issues with the playing strip?
I did tweet on that episode recently (Playing another owners game tomorrow after the real match... VJM XI vs CSK Owners XI...hope we get to choose the wicket!! Haha) but to be honest that was in pure jest.
I don't know what exactly happened in that episode, but having said that, I think it is a given that cricket is the only sport where the home team has a say on what surface they would prefer to play on. Speaking of Warne's fine, as I said earlier I don't know the details of what happened, so it would be unfair to comment on the fine.
All I can say is that Shane Warne is a stalwart of the game and he will be missed in the IPL.