DELHI // Salaries at the top end of the Indian Premier League spectrum may be on the obscene side of eye-watering. Wherever a player is in the food chain, though, they have to earn their keep.
The $2 million (Dh7.35m) Ben Stokes landed for playing in this competition was life-changing for him. It also means that scoring a match-winning century, after coming in when his side are 10-3 as they were in Pune on Monday, is more or less just what is expected.
For every Ben Stokes, Tymal Mills or Trent Boult, there are any number of players of modest celebrity, happy to be along for the ride, but itching to be noticed.
Take Chirag Suri for example. The 22-year-old student from Dubai was bought by Gujarat Lions for the base price at the IPL auction, the equivalent of around Dh55,000.
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For a month and a half of work, that is the sort of fee most people would be more than happy with. But, in IPL terms it basically amounts to the petty-cash drawer.
He has yet to play, and maybe he will not get a chance at all. Another opportunity came and went when his Gujarat side played against Delhi Daredevils at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium.
Figuring in this one would have meant more to him than any other. He was born in Delhi. Even though the family upped sticks for Dubai when he was five, they still consider Punjabi Marg, in the west of India’s capital, to be a home of sorts.
Neither father Bobby nor mother Gauri had made it to this game. Suri was not without a cheer squad, though. Close friend Anubhav Raina had taken a red-eye flight from Dubai, arriving in Delhi around 6am, after which he was hoping his pal would help him out with a match ticket.
Captain Suresh Raina top-scored for the Gujarat Lions with a 43-ball 77 against the Delhi Daredevils. Tsering Topgyal / AP Photo
Easier said than done when the cricket is the only show in town in a city of nearly 20 million people. To get him in, Suri was going to have to go right to the top of the ladder, and speak to the Lions owners.
Raina, an architecture student who was due to fly straight back to the UAE the day after the game, will have had to arrive early to see his mate in action.
At least Suri made it on to the immaculately manicured grass at the Kotla. And he earned his keep, too. In a manner of speaking, anyway.
The UAE batsman was the second Lions player out on to the field for the pre-match warm-ups, after Irfan Pathan, whose injury troubles mean he seems to dedicate almost every spare moment to stretching.
The young tyro from Dubai performed his duties with the eagerness of a trialist. When Suresh Raina, the Lions captain, went out for his pre-game batting practice, he was the first to hold his hand up to volunteer to provide throw downs.
Risbah Pant top-scored for the Delhi Daredeviks before falling three runs short of his century. Sajjad Hussain / AFP
He must be good at them. Raina was in rare touch, hitting his 31st IPL half-century, as the away team amassed 207-8.
Later in the piece, when the Daredevils started their reply, Suri was on the field briefly as a substitute fielder - only to be jettisoned by the umpires before a ball had been bowled.
The exact reason for him missing out was not clear. If it was because he is an overseas player, that was not a problem. Aaron Finch, Gujarat’s Australian batsman, was the absentee so the on-field quota remained at four.
In likelihood, it could have been because he was not among the listed replacements. Shadab Jakati, the 12th-man as per the official team sheet, came out instead. If that was the reason, the umpire was remarkably on the ball - if something of a party-pooper.
The Delhi Daredevils won the match by seven wickets with the second-highest successful chase in the IPL. Tsering Topgyal / AP Photo
If Suri needed any inspiration to believe playing on this platform can be within his compass, one of the stars of Delhi’s brutal run-chase is a peer of his.
Sanju Samson was one of India’s leading players in the 2014 Under-19 World Cup, which was played in the UAE. Suri was one of the foremost batsmen for the host nation in that competition.
Samson made an extraordinary 61 from 31 balls. Extraordinary chiefly because it was the more sedate contribution to a stand with Rishabh Pant, who was the match winner with 97 from 43 balls.
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