In the lead up to the IPL auction, broadcaster of the tournament, Star Sports had rolled out a campaign which asked fans of each franchise to list the players they wanted in their team.
Virender Sehwag who is part of the managing team at Kings XI Punjab as team director, and has been creating a buzz of his own on social media was roped in as the face of the campaign.
In a conversation with Campaign India, he revealed the idea behind the campaign.
"I think this is the first time that a fan is getting an opportunity to vote for their favourite player to play in their favourite team. For example, Yuvraj Singh played for Sunrisers Hyderabad last year. Now if 10-20 lakh people vote for him to play for Kings XI Punjab then we (KXIP) will get the data that 20 lakh people want Singh to play for KXIP and then maybe we will consider that those 20 lakh people will come on the social media pages of KXIP. That will boost the social media pages of the clubs and then become a source of revenue for Kings XI Punjab. We will see the number of fans who wanted a player for which team and that will be kept in mind. If the club is smart enough they will buy one or two players who the fans have voted for so that followers will come to them.”
He added, “Social media is very strong and big right now and can become a source of revenue for IPL clubs. If you have a 20 million fan following, and you're interacting with them, it's an opportunity for brands also to advertise on social media on the pages."
Post the auction it’s interesting to see which clubs actually heard the fans’ voices and picked the players.
Kings XI Punjab’s fans voted for their team to pick Ajinkya Rahane, Ben Stokes and Aaron Finch among the capped players and Basil Thampi, Avesh Khan and Manan Vohra among the uncapped players.
The franchise picked up one of the six players as it ended up with Finch.
Fans of the returning Chennai Super Kings wanted Brendon McCullum, Aaron Finch, Ajinkya Rahane, Basil Thampi, Rahul Tripathi and Anureet Singh.
Fans of the franchise would have been left disappointed as they picked up none of the above.
Delhi Daredevils' fans also wanted the popular Ajinkya Rahane, Aaron Finch, Avesh Khan and Basil Thampi along with Ben Stokes and Anureet Singh.
The franchise got one of the six as it snapped up Avesh Khan.
Kolkata Knight Riders’ fans wanted the team to retain Chris Lynn, Gautam Gambhir and SK Yadav along with the signings of Ben Stokes, Avesh Khan and Basil Thampi.
While Lynn was retained, the franchise didn’t retain its leader from previous editions, Gautam Gambhir.
Mumbai Indians’ fans wanted the managing team of the franchise to retain Krunal Pandya, Kieron Pollard and Nitish Rana along with the signings of Rahane, Stokes and Thampi.
The team did well in this aspect by using the right-to-match card to retain Pollard and Pandya.
Fans of the Royal Challengers Bengaluru wanted the club to retain Chris Gayle and Yuzvendra Chahal along with signings of Stokes, Krunal Pandya, Basil Thampi and Avesh Khan.
The team did well to retain Chahal but didn’t make a bid for Gayle!
Another team making a come-back for this season’s tournament is the Rajasthan Royals. Fans wanted them to pick up Rahane, McCullum, Stokes, Avesh Khan, Deepak Hooda and Basil Thampi.
Fans would be delighted by the outcome as the team picked up Rahane and Stokes.
Sunrisers Hyderabad’s fans wanted the club to sign Finch, Stokes, Shikhar Dhawan, Deepak Hooda, Krunal Pandya and Anureet Singh.
The club listened to its fans and retained two of the requests Dhawan and Hooda.