Being season one, there’s going to be a very steep learning curve – Abhishek Bachchan, Majhi Mumbai

Mr Bachchan covered a wide range of subjects in the interview, such as the marketing efforts, measuring the team's ROI, and more.

The Indian Street Premier League (ISPL) team, Majhi Mumbai have successfully obtained a robust player roster at the auction that was held in Mumbai.

With the highest bid of INR 27 lakh at the auction, the franchise, led by Abhishek Bachchan, who was representing his father, Amitabh Bachchan, the team’s owner, was able to secure the services of the all-rounder, Abhishek Kumar Dalhor. Apart from him, Vijay Pawale, a West Zone all-rounder, was another huge signing for the team, costing INR 13.5 lakh. Raviraj Ahire was signed for INR 4.8 lakh. Apart from these three, all of their other players were purchased for INR 3 lakh.

Overall, Majhi Mumbai utilised INR 84.3 lakh of their INR 1 crore budget, fulfilling their 16-player quota. They acquired three players from the East Zone while adding five from the West Zone. Two players from South and Central Zones were also picked. With these, the Mumbai-based ISPL team also signed two promising U19 players for the competition’s inaugural season.

With such a formidable squad, the team will undoubtedly try to finish at the top when the event kicks off on March 6 at Thane’s Dadoji Kondadev Stadium. The tournament will be unconventional, as it will have tennis balls in place of leather balls. The final of the competition will take place on March 15.

Neeti Agrawal, Director of PATH India Ltd and Abhishek Bachchan

At the auction, SportsMint Media also had the honour to interact with Mr Abhishek Bachchan. The veteran actor covered a wide range of subjects in the interview, such as marketing efforts, measuring ROI, the idea that celebrities shouldn’t be in the spotlight, and more.

1. How valuable is it to have Bollywood celebrities as owners in terms of bringing audiences to the stands or viewership on TV?

Our internal communication is quite clear that it won’t matter who will be in the stands, the ones playing on the ground are the main focus. In the end, no one is going to remember who came to support but the player who won the match. My father, Mr Amitabh Bachchan, is rooting for the team to do well in the inaugural edition and he’ll be there in the stands to support the unit. All members of the franchise are very well aware of the fact that the actual stars are the people who are going to be playing on the pitch and helping the team win.

2. Being an ardent supporter of sports in India, how does your involvement become commercially vital for the team?

I’ve had over 10 years of experience in sports in India, and after the first season, you have to allow your team to propel. As a franchise, our primary aim is to build a brand out of the players.

If I can help bring a certain amount of attention to these players, it will go a long way. We are also aware that after the first season or an initial couple of matches, people are not going to come to see the stars in the stands, rather, they want to come to see the stars on the field.

Speaking from the commercial standpoint, I’ve been grateful that I’ve managed to turn my sporting enterprises profitable. After multiple ventures, we are aware that a certain investment is involved initially and it takes time to recuperate that investment and get a return on the capital. We’re very confident that very soon we’ll be able to start getting our returns and start making a profit.

Cricket is an accurate sport to bank upon for grabbing eyeballs if you are a sponsor. The upcoming ISPL is a fruitful opportunity for sponsors and teams to not only do something great for the athletes but obviously, to have some business out of it as well.

3. Could you please tell us how will the team proceed on the marketing front from here on?

We have a very robust marketing plan already in place and it is going to be a short window. Being season one, there’s going to be a very steep learning curve. We’ve made our contingencies and we are eager to understand the audience for our team and the competition. We’re pretty happy with our investment so far and I think we should do well on the marketing front too.

4. How will the financial assurance given by the competition to players help propel tennis ball cricket and motivate players to take it up as a career?

We’ve managed to speak to some of our players through video call and they also seem to be excited. It’s about giving these players and athletes a platform and the money comes secondary. Obviously, it is already very good money and in certain cases, more money than they would have already made playing the sport.

When players see and understand that this is a league, in which they can aspire to change their lives, they’re going to get even more interested. Today’s auction goes to prove that this sport is a very viable, prosperous career option for every individual, and I hope that some of the figures in the auction will assure families that tennis ball cricket is something that one can make a career out of.

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