Indian Premier League 2011 February 4, 2011

IPL window shuts on Ganguly

The IPL governing council has denied franchises permission to sign the three unsold Indian players from the auction after some of the teams objected to the proposal, putting an end to any chances former India captain, Sourav Ganguly, had of playing in IPL 4. The governing council, also, in a questionable decision, allowed Manish Pandey to sign with the Pune Warriors, but banned him for four matches for breaching the IPL's rules concerning the signing of uncapped players.

It is understood that the Kochi franchise wanted to buy Ganguly, and had sought permission from the BCCI since IPL rules did not permit unsold players to be signed. Subsequently, the BCCI sent a letter to the ten franchises asking if they would have any objections to the unsold players being made available again. Mehul Shah, one of the co-owners at Kochi, had claimed the franchise had not approached the IPL to sign Ganguly, but one of the governing council members, speaking to ESPNcricinfo, said it had. "Kochi were interested in him as a player."

Incidentally, three franchises - Deccan Chargers, Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bangalore - objected to bringing back the unsold players into the league, thus putting to rest any possibility of Ganguly's return. But it was Pandey's case that was deliberated by the governing council members for a significant part of three-hour long meeting.

Pandey, the most sought-after uncapped domestic player, attracted attention after the IPL got a complaint from his former owners Bangalore, who alleged that the player's agent was involved in discussions with rival teams and demanding more money than the rules allow. The uncapped players have been placed in fixed price brackets by the IPL - those players who made their first-class 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).

But, according to an IPL official, despite the lengthy discussions, the governing council could not conclusively ascertain if Pandey or his agent had committed any violations. "It (the allegation) could not be established," the source revealed. So, instead the IPL decided to allow Pandey, India's first centurion in the league, to play but with the rider that he sit out of the first four games.

The IPL also "rejected" Mumbai Indians' charge (expressed in a letter to the BCCI last week) that a last-minute change in the auction procedure had compromised the "level-playing field" for all franchises. But in a statement released after the meeting today, the IPL said "the auction was transparent and fair" in response. It stated the procedure was the same as all the previous IPL auctions and that representatives of all the franchisees had signed the briefing note accepting the rules, including India Win Sports Private Limited, the company that owns the Mumbai Indians.

"The Mumbai case was discussed in great detail but their complaint was rejected. Their protest about not following auction rules does not hold water now because before the auction everybody submitted a signed letter," the source said. According to him, Mumbai were indirectly trying to suggest that N Srinivisan, who is the owner of Chennai Super Kings, and a member of the governing council, was privy to everything during the auction and was influencing the buying of players which left other teams at a disadvantage. "Mumbai will be provided with a detailed reply," the source said.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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