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Daredevils play the joker to perfection

Thursday, 13 February 2014 - 6:00am IST | Place: Bangalore | Agency: DNA

Apart from his culinary delights, Rene Redzepi, the renowned Danish chef, is known for his quotable quotes. Sample this: "Of all, I had turned down other head chef jobs. I didn't want to take over someone else's cuisine. I wanted to start from scratch," he had once said. The Delhi Daredevils management treaded a similar path a few weeks ago. From Virender Sehwag to Mahela Jayawardene, Morne Morkel to Varun Aaron, they dumped them all. Perhaps, a bottom-place finish did merit a complete overhaul.

At the ITC Gardenia here on Wednesday, the men who matter at the GMR-owned franchise didn't put a foot wrong. Loaded with cash — a full purse of Rs 60 crore — and armed with the selectorial brains of head coach Gary Kirsten and mentor TA Sekar, they picked 13 high-quality players for Rs 51.4 crore. In spite of going an extravagant shopping spree, they are left with enough funds to land a handful of uncapped players and, perhaps, even a couple of stars who were unsold on Day One.

Of all the smart decisions they took, Kirsten & Co. scored a 'Perfect 10' when it came to using their 'right to match' cards. About three minutes into the auction M Vijay became the first member of Daredevils 2.0. Jayawardene, the second player on sale, didn't find a buyer.

"Now then, who do we have? Kevin Pietersen, the England batsman," quipped the auctioneer. He could have well prefixed England with 'former'. In any case, the room was buzzing. Chennai Super Kings opened the bidding; Kings XI Punjab were in no mood to be left behind and, in no time, it was a rat race.

Sun Risers Hyderabad then threw their hat into the ring, but Chennai were still at it. Just then, the Delhi camp allowed the two cats to have a go at each other. Another round of exchanges ensued before Chennai conceded defeat. Hyderabad knew they had struck gold. And that's when Richard Madley played 'spoilsport.

"Please allow me to give Delhi Daredevils the opportunity the right to match that bid of Rs 900 lakh," he announced.Delhi had no second thoughts. They raised the bright-looking card, replete a totem-like design, to bring back KP. It was like registering a hat-trick against the run of play. Guess what, they have two more such cards.

During the course of the day, a few other franchises also used their 'joker' card(s). Kolkata Knight Riders used them to great effect by snapping up Yusuf Pathan and Jacques Kallis, the former taking home a 'measly' Rs 3.25 crore as against the $2.2 million he used to in Seasons 4, 5 and 6. Kallis, who was earnestly pursued by Chennai, went to Kolkata for Rs 5.5 crore.

"A part of the strategy was to try and conserve the (right to match) cards just in case we needed it later. We could have paid a little bit of price for using the cards earlier, but luckily, we got everyone we would have used the card for. I think we came out okay," Kolkata's chief executive, Venky Mysore, said.

Chennai received another jolt when medium pacer Parvinder Awana, who they had bought for Rs 65 lakh, went to Kings XI Punjab. Preity Zinta's team has one more 'joker' card in hand. The 'Yellow Brigade', however, displayed great presence of mind by grabbing Faf du Plessis from Delhi.

"It very much came down to who came out first (for bidding)," Chennai coach Stephen Fleming said of losing Michael Hussey to Mumbai Indians. "We value them both a lot, but with the way the bidding is going and the way the room is working, it is a little bit risky to leave an opportunity."

Mumbai did the same when it came to Pragyan Ojha, but not before they'd participated in the bid themselves! The left-arm spinner didn't cost them more than Rs 3.25 crore.

Hyderabad earned a revenge of sorts when they got back Darren Sammy who was well on his way to becoming a Daredevil. They thwarted Delhi once again by using it to retain leg-spinner Amit Mishra.

The Pietersen saga, though, was the clincher.

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