IPL 2013 news May 21, 2013

Donald and Uthappa taken by surprise

Nagraj Gollapudi and Firdose Moonda

The decision by Sahara, owners of Pune Warriors, to pull out of the IPL seems to have caught its franchise staff by surprise. Coach Allan Donald and senior batsman Robin Uthappa have both admitted to being caught off guard by the development.

"This is a massive surprise to me," Donald told ESPNcricinfo. "I'm shocked because we had spoken, not in great detail but loosely, about prospects for next year. The owners were really upbeat for next season and the next three years because next year we'd have new contracts, new players. We spoke about the possibility of building a culture within the team."

Uthappa said none of the players or support staff had made a mention of pulling out at all. "I was browsing on my iPad and read the headline, 'Pune Warriors pull out of IPL,' I was like 'wow,'" Uthappa told this website, adding that he was surprised but not shocked. With the contracts coming to an end this season, the players would have been back on the auction list before the next IPL. "It is okay. I am not too worried. Things would be back to neutral with us going back to the auction."

The scenes are reminiscent of Sahara's pullout in 2012, on the morning of the auction. As ESPNcricinfo reported at the time, the decision then was announced to the team leadership hours after it had done a late-night shift working on its auction strategy. Donald "was left rubbing his eyes in disbelief"; Ganguly, the captain, "walked away from the auction room in fury."

Tuesday's decision by Sahara India is over differences with the BCCI over the valuation of the annual franchise fee it has to pay. The decision comes three years after it bought the Pune franchise for $370 million.