Hardik Pandya’s much-anticipated move from the Gujarat Titans to his old franchise, the Mumbai Indians, remained the talking point on Sunday, even after the player retention list was made official by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
According to the BCCI statement, GT has retained Hardik ahead of the Indian Premier League auction, scheduled to be held in Dubai on December 19. However, multiple sources in the Indian cricket board and the franchises claim that the Mumbai Indians have managed to get Hardik on board in an all-cash deal.
None of the franchises, however, have offered a statement on the issue as of writing.
Sources have told Sportstar that the deal was struck late Sunday evening, after the retention deadline of 5 p.m. It was only possible after MI got some extra credits in its purse, having successfully traded Cameron Green to the Royal Challengers Bangalore for 17.5 crore.
Gill in the race for skipper role
If Hardik leaves the Titans, there will be a toss-up between Shubman Gill and Kane Williamson for the captaincy role. While Gill, who has had great success with the franchise, remains the front-runner, a section of the think-tank believes that Williamson could be given the responsibility because of his experience leading New Zealand and Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL.
Though he does not enjoy an enviable record in IPL captaincy, Williamson led New Zealand to the final of the ODI World Cup in 2019 and also to the semifinal this year. In 2021, New Zealand reached the final of the T20 World Cup before losing to Australia in the summit clash. Last year, it lost the T20 World Cup semifinal against Pakistan.
Williamson’s struggles with injuries may also be a factor working against him.
Gill, meanwhile, has never led an IPL or international team yet.
The trading window will remain open until December 12.
Hazlewood exclusion owing to possible unavailability issue
Under newly appointed head coach Andy Flower and a new director of cricket, Mo Bobat, RCB underwent a massive overhaul. Its bowling line-up will bear a new look after releasing Josh Hazlewood, Wanindu Hasaranga, and Harshal Patel.
This publication understands that the uncertainty over the availability of Hazlewood for the first half of the tournament could have played a part in the franchise releasing him ahead of the auction.
With the release of 11 players, the RCB now has a purse of Rs 40.75 crore available. “These decisions are important. You are affecting people’s careers. I think now that I take the responsibility really seriously, we have given good debate time and thought to those decisions,” said Flower.
There were quite a few surprises in other franchises, too.
The Mumbai Indians released eleven players, including England pacer Jofra Archer, who has been out of action for an extended period with injury. Since joining the franchise a couple of seasons ago, Archer has played in just five games for the five-time champion side.
Over to Dhoni
In stark contrast to all the excitement and inquisitiveness surrounding the Mumbai Indians camp, it was rather calm and quiet in Chennai as the Super Kings, on expected lines, left out Dwaine Pretorius, K. Bhagath Varma, Subhranshu Senapati, Kyle Jamieson, Akash Singh, and Sisanda Magala. Ben Stokes had already pulled out earlier.
“We just have to find a replacement for Rayudu and Stokes, who’s not available. Otherwise, our unit is settled,” Kasi Viswanathan, the CEO of CSK, told Sportstar.
ALSO READ: CSK confirms Dhoni will feature in IPL 2024
Soon after the retention list was announced, the franchise put out a picture of captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on social media with the caption, ‘2024 - A Gift from Thala! Start the whistles!’ leading to a buzz on whether it was indeed Dhoni’s final season with the franchise. The CSK CEO, however, did not wish to make a comment and insisted that it’s up to Dhoni to decide.
New KKR, new vision
Chennai has Rs 31.4 crore remaining in its purse, whereas Kolkata Knight Riders, which left out some of its star recruits, including Tim Southee, Lockie Ferguson, Shardul Thakur, Shakib Al Hasan, and Litton Das, has a purse of Rs 32.7 crore.
Under a new mentor, Gautam Gambhir, the Knights are aiming to rebuild after a few disastrous seasons.
“What does Gambhir coming back to KKR mean? Well, it means everything. Gautam has been a family, and we have had a good run (during his stint),” KKR CEO Venky Mysore said.
“If you look at the players we have retained, it is almost like a first-eleven side for us. Hope we don’t have too much to do going into the auction.”
The mini-auctions are about fine-tuning, and things could often get tricky. However, franchises like the Delhi Capitals and Punjab Kings would hope to fix the weak links.
Of Capitals and gains
DC, which hopes to get back the services of its captain Rishabh Pant, has released Rilee Rossouw, Phil Salt, Sarfaraz Khan, Aman Khan, Rovman Powell, and Mustafizur Rahman.
Jaydev Unadkat, Daniel Sams, and Manan Vohra are among those released by the Lucknow Super Giants. Kyle Mayers, Quinton de Kock, and Mark Wood are some notable retentions by the franchise.
“It’s fun times, and it’s like a big game of chess. By getting young (Devdutt) Padikkal, we wanted to strengthen our Indian top-order batting. He’s a good fielder and a fantastic team man. It’s part of our strategy to trade Avesh (Khan),” said LSG head coach Justin Langer.
There were no major shake-ups at the Rajasthan Royals and PBKS. “The ICC ODI World Cup 2023 has thrown up some exceptional talent, and the Indian domestic talent continues to impress. The tough part of this job is deciding which of these exceptional talents you let go,” said Punjab coach Trevor Bayliss.
Bayliss’ former franchise, Sunrisers Hyderabad, left out Harry Brook, who was bought for a whopping Rs 13.25 crore last season.
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