'For me, it's cricket first. I'm openly partial to it'

As Bangalore take on Mumbai in today's CL T20 final, Mallya Jr believes MI is going to be difficult to beat, even without an injured Sachin Tendulkar

It's Super Sunday for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) team director Siddhartha Mallya. In the first half of the day, the in-form Force India Formula One team, owned and marshalled by his father Dr Vijay Mallya, competes in the Japanese GP. Later, RCB take on Mumbai Indians (MI) in the Champions League final in Chennai. The Mumbai outfit beat Somerset in Saturday's semi-final.

Team director of Royal Challengers Bangalore Siddharth Mallya plays a
shot during a friendly match between support and administrative staff
of Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kolkata Knight Riders cricket teams
at M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru on May 14, 2011. pic/afp photo

Mallya Jr spoke with SUNDAY MiD DAY even as he and some of RCB's players followed the semi-final action between MI and Somerset on television in their Chennai hotel room.

Are you surprised that you are not up against Chennai in the final?
It's definitely a surprise that Chennai didn't make the semi-finals because they are a very strong team. But it's going to be a tough final nevertheless.

There's no Sachin in the Mumbai Indians line-up. Is that a relief?
I wouldn't say Sachin's absence is a relief to us because when it comes down to the final, it all boils down to what happens on that day. Whether MI has Sachin or not, they still remain a very strong team and that's why they've reached this far in the tournament. Of course, Sachin's presence would have made a huge difference to MI because he is their key player.

Mallya with actress and friend Deepika Padukone at a fashion awards
function held in Mumbai last month. PIC/SATYAJIT DESAI

The popularity of the Indian Premier League doesn't seem to have rubbed off on the Champions League...
Obviously, the crowd is not the same as it was during the IPL. But then, you have to understand that in an IPL match, both teams are Indian. So naturally the support is that much more as people identify with a particular franchise and its Indian players. But in the case of the CLT20, in almost every match, one team is a foreign one and that's why there isn't as much of a fan following. I don't think we can expect the TRPs to be as high as during the IPL.

It's a big sporting day for you (on Sunday) considering Force India will be at the Japanese GP. Are you going to be split between Formula One and cricket?
I'm a huge F1 fan, but then, I don't really think I'll be split between the two because I love cricket. For me, without hesitation, it's cricket first. I'm openly partial to it.

On a more personal note, what's it like to be in the limelight, and with all the gossip that's written about you? Recently a photo-shopped picture of you feeling up Katrina Kaif cropped up.
It was a picture shot of Katrina and me during the last IPL. But the picture was doctored, and I really had a huge laugh about it. What else can you do really? What's the point in getting upset about something you cannot control? Many papers have written bad things about me and there are also the good things that come out. All I do is laugh. But sometimes, I feel there must be better things going on in the world that one can write about, instead of gossip related to me.

Your pucker gets talked about a lot. Is that the one physical trait you think you have that drives women wild? (Mallya is said to have a pucker that can put Angelina Jolie's to shame).
Oh, I think I read that somewhere. I'm not too sure if I like it or if the ladies love it. Do they? Well, if they do, then it must be good, isn't it?

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