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Home is where Hardik is!

Updated on: 13 December,2023 07:01 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Sunil Gavaskar |

There were rumours floating already about all-rounder Pandya being transferred/traded to Mumbai Indians. That came as a bit of a shock since he had not only led Gujarat Titans to two back-to-back finals, winning one title, but he also seemed well settled there

Home is where Hardik is!

Hardik Pandya

Sunil GavaskarBarely had the tears dried up after the unexpected loss in the final of the ICC World Cup, Indian cricket showed it had the ability to move on.

The focus was shifted to the transfer window for the IPL next season. Yes, there was a five-match T20 series being played between India and Australia, but hey, after what was a memorable World Cup, who was bothered about the T20 series except the staunch Indian cricket lovers.

The big boys from both teams were not playing anyway, so there was no compelling reason to watch the T20 series after two months of top-class ODI cricket. Instead, there was much more intrigue and interest in the transfer and trade, which was to be done within that week’s deadline. Who was going to be transferred, who was going to be released, who was going where, was what the Indian fan was looking at. He/she didn’t have to wait long. There were rumours floating already about Hardik Pandya being transferred/traded to Mumbai Indians. That came as a bit of a shock since Pandya had not only led the Gujarat team to two back-to-back finals, winning one title, but he also seemed well settled there. Or so it seemed. 

Also Read: Cheers to tears

Speculation still on

When a successful captain wants to leave a successful franchise, then the reasons are beyond a common fan’s thinking. Pandya had been picked by Mumbai Indians as a raw talent, and he had now become one of the biggest names not just in Indian cricket but in the world game. There’s plenty of speculation still going on as to why he wanted to leave and go back to where he had started, but then, aren’t there so many instances of very successful Indians overseas who have preferred to give all that up and come back home? Pandya has never made a secret of the fact that he considers Mumbai Indians as his home. It tells you of the wonderful family atmosphere that the Mumbai Indians have created where even those who have left have nothing but good things to say about the franchise.

In that week after the World Cup final, we saw some players were transferred, most were released as the franchises understood that they needed to make funds available for new recruits. Most realised how they had splurged on some players who did not even give them a fraction of the value that they were bought for. Any team that releases more than five players must also sack their advisors who were there at the auction table, for it is because of them that the owners who don’t follow much other cricket and so are dependent on these advisors, were forced to raise their paddle for some silly amounts.

These guys travel the world watching the various T20 leagues, which are televised in India anyway and yet come up with duds more often than not. The most important thing is to know the difference in the pitches and conditions from India and wherever the other leagues are. So, to think that the pacers who look so good on Australian and South African pitches will bowl well on Indian pitches is downright silly. Yet, look at the huge amounts spent on them in the past and count how many matches they have had an impact on. Their short-of-good length bowling which looks good on the harder, bouncier pitches there, is just the ideal hitting length on Indian pitches. 

Coaches favour their nation 

The other thing to watch out for are the coaches, especially from these two countries. They will suggest mainly names from their countries. Promoting players from their countries is such a strong suit with them that we Indians should learn from that and look after fellow Indians rather than trying to pull them down. Have a look at which countries players have been most impactful in the IPL and you will find that West Indies and New Zealand are right on top, but because the media there is not as influential as in the ‘old powers’ their players get picked almost as a last resort and for paltry amounts. You will also find that the more successful players are usually those that play all formats, for they have the experience and the wherewithal to make the necessary adjustments to their game. The other thing to look out for are those players that come with a doctor’s certificate, suggesting they will be fine in a week or so. Then, they break down again after a couple of games or so and the franchise finds out that they have been taken for a ride. The entire strategy of the franchises of building a team at the auction goes for a tumble when this happens. Have a look over the years and you know which country most of these players come from. They, as it is act as if they are doing a huge favour to the IPL by turning up and then apart from the odd exception they have added nothing to the franchise but only to their own bank balance.

Also Read: How to win a World Cup final

IPL still the most exciting

Hard words these maybe, but having been associated with the IPL from the very beginning, I have seen what’s been going on.  That said, it’s still the most exciting and competitive T20 tournament in the game. Just imagine if all concerned were as attached and loyal to the IPL that has changed their lives, what wonderful cricket we would get. Is that too much to hope for?

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