Over the years, the Delhi Capitals (formerly known as Delhi Daredevils) have witnessed a parade of fine cricket talents, including the likes of Kevin Pietersen, AB de Villiers, Andre Russell, and Yuvraj Singh.
However, the franchise’s history has also been marked by their tendency to release players without affording them an extended opportunity. Even as stalwarts of the game donned their jersey for brief periods, the team’s struggles became apparent.
When the Indian Premier League (IPL) debuted, the Delhi-based franchise boasted stars like Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir in their ranks. A dazzling array of players lent their expertise to the team, forming a roster that could rival any competitor.
In a surprising move in 2008, Bollywood luminary Akshay Kumar was signed as the face of the team, bringing his star power to the cricket field. His role involved shooting promotional videos, attending events, and gracing corporate gatherings. Among his memorable contributions was his daring stunt performance at the Kotla, captivating the audience’s attention.
Despite the initial fanfare, Delhi Daredevils struggled to fully harness Akshay Kumar’s potential and capitalize on his popularity. The season concluded, but not without the backdrop of significant financial losses. Faced with mounting challenges, the team’s management confronted the need to renegotiate or terminate the three-year contract with Akshay Kumar.
Amid this intricate situation, Amrit Mathur, a former Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Delhi Daredevils and a former General Manager of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), found himself entrusted with the task of broaching the matter with the iconic actor. Mathur, tasked with explaining the dire financial straits to Kumar, had little inkling of the response he was about to receive.
With candor and empathy, Akshay Kumar reacted to the news, displaying an unexpected benevolence that would soon echo far beyond the cricketing world. “No problem ji,” he said, acknowledging the franchise’s predicament. “If it’s not working, let’s close it.” This statement stunned Mathur, who recounted the exchange in his autobiography, “Pitchside: My Life in Indian Cricket.”
As Mathur recollected, Akshay Kumar’s response was anything but ordinary. “Isko khatam kar dete hain,” Kumar proposed, indicating his willingness to terminate the contract. In the face of stringent legal clauses that bound him to the three-year agreement, Kumar remained resolute. “Koi baat nahi, main lawyer ko bol dunga,” he calmly reassured Mathur.
The cancellation of the contract wasn’t merely a contractual conclusion; it was a testament to Akshay Kumar’s character and his unwavering commitment to aiding the franchise in its time of need. His swift and altruistic decision not only saved Delhi Daredevils from substantial financial losses but also demonstrated his genuine concern for the well-being of the team and the sport.