New Delhi: Inspired by the Brad Pitt-starrer Hollywood sports drama "Moneyball", Benga Beats owners have raised their team hoping to make it big time in the inaugural edition of the Indian Badminton League (IBL).
Franchise boss Amit Mavi, who is also the owner of real estate firm BOP, wants to do what Billy Beane, the character played by Pitt, did to turn around "cash-strapped" baseball team Oakland A into a champion outfit.
Mavi told IANS that just like Beane, the general manager of the team, with limited resources, he has struggled to raise a competitive team starring India`s top male shuttler Parupali Kashyap, Olympic and World Championship doubles silver medallist Carsten Mogensen and World No.6 Hu Yun of Hong Kong.
"We have devised a strategy to assemble a competitive team for IBL. Just like in the film, we also struggled with limited payroll and somehow with conviction managed to overcome it," Mavi told media.
Mavi feels franchise coach Vimal Kumar, a two-time ex-national champion and also a former national coach, is like the character Peter Brand, played by Jonah Hill, who was Pitt`s assistant.
Mavi said they adopted a non-traditional approach in selecting players for the team.
"Vimal Kumar had a very non-traditional approach in picking player. We are not relying on the player`s experience and intuition. But we are selecting them on the basis of their performance. We have a team of undervalued players with far more potential than finances would otherwise allow," Mavi added.
Mavi feels that Kashyap, the first Indian male player to reach the Olympic quarterfinals, is the perfect choice to lead the team.
Talking about his players, Mavi said: "Kashyap has the energy and the aggression that this game requires. Hu Yun is one of the top ranked players in the world and still has the burning desire to reach the top. Veteran Arvind Bhat has the experience of representing Indian in over 100 matches."
For BOP, the player`s auction was a calculated affair. Kashyap was a good catch at $75,000 while Danish doubles specialist Mogensen, a London Games`s silver medallist came for $50,000. Mogensen proved his worth by winning the doubles silver in the just concluded World Championships in Guangzhou China. Yun, World No.6, was a prize possession at $50,000.
Chinese Taipei`s World No.8 Tai Tzu Ying ($25,000), European U-17 champion Carolina Marin ($10,000) of Spain and home grown players like Akshay Dewalkar ($36,000), Aparna Balan ($12,000), Aditya Prakash ($5,000), Arvind Bhat ($7,500), J. Meghana ($4,000).
In all, they spent $224,500 to build a low-profile yet a strong team.
"Comparisons has to end here as the Banga Beats plot has just started. Now we all have to see is whether the plot will go the `Moneyball` way or if Banga Beats will be charting out a better plot," Mavi signed off.