This has never been seen in the history of IPL. Player substitution rules are in place. So let the team captain and main star, who is again an important cricketer of the Indian team, to the main rival before the auction?
Gujarat Titans have shown such an incredible act. The team that came down to play the third IPL released captain Hardik Pandya to Mumbai Indians. There was a lot of curiosity about what could be the reason for this. The Indian Express says that Mumbai has only agreed to pay Rs 100 crore to Gujarat.
Pandya’s defection has already raised eyebrows. There is no less tension with pace bowling all-rounders in IPL. That is why record breaking bids were fetched for Cameron Green or Sam Curran in the last IPL. Shardul Thakur also took at least 10 crore rupees every time.
Hardik Pandya is ahead of all of them in quality. He also has a few other qualities – he’s Indian, so he doesn’t have to use the foreign quota, captained Gujarat to the IPL, and led India’s T20 team in harmony. Who misses the chance to hold such a brand for just Rs 15 crore.
In the meantime, news came that Mumbai had been secretly talking to Pandya before the World Cup. And Pandya stipulated that he would change the team only if he was made the captain. But according to the rules, it is illegal to make such an agreement with any other franchisee. In such a situation, Gujarat could have been strict. But the opposite left him without a word.
IPL does not change teams like football. As in football, one team can buy a player and sell him to another team at a higher price. As for the IPL trade, since Pandya is worth Rs 15 crore, if he is released, Gujarat gets back Rs 15 crore for other players in his salary cap. As a result, the auction again gets an opportunity to spend Rs. 15 crore. On the other hand, Mumbai had to give up one or more of their players (Green) to make room for Pandya and pay that 15 crore rupees. So why did Gujarat agree so easily?
Sandeep Divedi in an analytical column in the Indian Express gave an explanation. The franchise was desperate to bring back Pandya, who played for Mumbai from 2015 to 2021. While Rohit Sharma is in his mid-thirties, Pandya is still at the peak of his career and is being tipped as the future captain of the Indian team. And Gujarat played the final in both the seasons under captain Pandya.
So even though the whole world knows the calculation of 15 crores, there is a bigger game going on behind the scenes. The figure is known to the IPL authorities. Indian Express claims, Mumbai cost more than 100 crore rupees to convince Gujarat to change parties!
But in IPL, the teams do not come to earn money. By retaining good players, they add brand value to on-field performance. And this brand value paves the way for hundreds of times more income. That is why Mumbai pull their target players into the team at any cost. Why did Gujarat, who showed intelligence in the first two IPLs, agree to give up their biggest brand?
Because franchises in Kolkata, Punjab, Bangalore or Mumbai are owned by one or more individuals. But not so in Gujarat. In 2022, CVC Capital bought the Gujarat franchisee for 10 years. 40 people have shares in this investment firm. For Mumbai or Chennai Super Kings, doing well in the IPL is a matter of pride.
On the other hand, for the owners of Gujarat, it is all about financial gain. By letting go of Pandya, they have not only freed up Rs 15 crore in the salary cap, but also added more than Rs 100 crore to the company’s income.
Hardik Pandya’s cricketing value is a minor consideration when compared to the Rs 100 crore added to the investment fund’s balance sheet at the end of this financial year and the ripple effect it will have on their share prices in the stock market.