Suman to Mumbai, Pandey still deciding
Mumbai Indians have signed uncapped Hyderabad batsman T Suman for the fourth season of the IPL. The 27-year-old Suman, who played for Deccan Chargers in the second and third seasons of the tournament, said he had received more than one offer but it was the opportunity to play alongside his hero Sachin Tendullkar that lured him to Mumbai.
"It has been a childhood dream to play with Sachin Tendulkar, so I happily accepted the Mumbai offer," Suman said. He said he was unaware of who the other franchises interested in him were.
Meanwhile, 21-year-old Karnataka batsman Manish Pandey is reportedly talking to both Royal Challengers Bangalore, his former owners, and Pune Warriors, and has become the object of a tug-of-war between the two franchises.
Pandey has said he is considering both offers, but there has been a lot of speculation about the top bracket of uncapped players being put under duress by the franchises, who have allegedly tried to tempt them with lucrative offers.
Vijay Mallya, Bangalore's owner, had voiced concerns immediately after the end of the player auction on January 9 about how the BCCI could stop rival teams from poaching uncapped players. Chirayu Amin, the IPL governing council chairman, too, had admitted that it would be "difficult" to keep a close watch on under-hand dealings but assured the franchises the IPL would remain vigilant about any wrongdoing.
Suman and Pandey were both part of a group of Indian players who went to the BCCI office in Mumbai on Thursday to meet IPL officials, who discussed with them the details of the offers they had received from franchises. Suman said he had met IPL chief operating officer Sundar Raman, who made him aware of the various rules of the contract. The meetings have been set up to facilitate the IPL rule that uncapped players must sign contracts through a three-way agreement involving player, franchise and the IPL.
Tamil Nadu batting allrounder R Sathish, Himachal Pradesh wicketkeeper Manvinder Bisla and Madhya Pradesh batsman Mohnish Mishra were some of the other players who met the board officials. The meetings continued on Friday with Maharashtra batsman Kedar Jadhav and Mumbai fast bowler Dhawal Kulkarni going to the BCCI office. Jadhav joined Kochi, while it is not clear who Kulkarni has signed with.
Suman impressed everyone with his cameos during Hyderabad's title-winning campaign in the second season of the IPL. He started slowly in the third edition, but bounced back to play a vital role in Hyderabad reaching the semi-finals, the highlight being his unbeaten 78 that helped beat the stiff target of 184 set by Bangalore at the Chinnaswamy Stadium.
Admitting it was a tough decision to leave Hyderabad, Suman thanked his former owners for their support and creating the platform for him to excel, and said they would understand his decision.
Pandey had announced himself with a century for Bangalore against Hyderabad in the second season of the IPL and has since impressed in domestic cricket,
It is also understood that Bisla and Bengal allrounder Laxmi Shukla have given their nod to offers from Kolkata Knight Riders. Shukla was at Kolkata for the first three seasons, while Bisla has been a part of both Deccan Chargers' and Kings XI Punjab's squads.
Jadhav, who scored a 29-ball fifty on his IPL debut last year with Delhi Daredevils, was wanted by both Delhi and Kochi, and picked the latter because of his familiarity with Kochi's head coach Geoff Lawson. "I have known Geoff Lawson since he was my coach at Torna Tigers in the Maharashtra Premier League. So the comfort level we have is good and that was one of the deciding factors," Jadhav said. He also felt he would get good exposure with Kochi, since it is a new team that is looking for domestic batsmen, and that he could grow with the team.
As Jadhav entered the BCCI office to sign the contract papers, Dhawal Kulkarni was walking out, but it is still not clear which of the four franchises who are interested in him he has given the nod to.
Kochi have also bought Kerala allrounder Raiphi Gomez, while Pune Warriors have bought the Maharashtra trio of batsman Harshad Khadiwale, seamer Shrikant Mundhe and offspinner Ganesh Gaikwad. Pune also signed former ICL player Dheeraj Jadhav. Dheeraj, a left-hand batsman, now plays for Assam in the Ranji Trophy, but is originally from Pune and played for Maharashtra before joining the ICL.
The uncapped players have been placed in fixed price brackets by the IPL - those players who made their debut in the last two years will be paid Rs 10 lakhs ($22,000); those in the field for two to five years would get Rs 20 lakhs ($44,000) and those with more than five years' experience Rs 30 lakhs ($66,000).
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo