Tariq Engineer is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo
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Sourav Ganguly might find himself back on the field for the 2011 IPL after all, even though he failed to attract any bids from franchises during the auction on January 8 and 9. ESPNcricinfo has learnt that the BCCI has sent a letter to the franchises asking if they have any objections to teams signing Indian players who were unsold in the auction. The letter specifically mentions Ganguly as one of the players the franchises are interested in, along with Wasim Jaffer and VRV Singh, who were the other two Indian players that weren't bought. IPL rules presently do not permit unsold players to be signed after the auction.
The Kochi franchise is reported to have shown interest in signing Ganguly, and had apparently contacted the BCCI, leading to the sending of the letter. However, Mehul Shah, one of the co-owners of the franchise, told ESPNcricinfo that was not the case and they had not asked the board for permission to sign Ganguly.
The franchises have until February 3 to respond to the letter, with the BCCI expected to decide on the matter during the IPL governing council meeting on February 4. "There are two conditions to the proposal," a franchise official said. Teams will have to pay the minimum base price set for the player in the auction and the cost of the player will come out of the team's salary cap.
Ganguly had raised eyebrows when he doubled his base price to $400,000 just before the auction, and officials from a number of franchises were sceptical that he would find any takers. At the time Ganguly expressed incredulity at finding no buyers. "I don't know what happened," he said. "It's up to the teams to decide on the players but I didn't expect to go unsold. It's hard to believe that I don't figure among the 100-odd cricketers."
Subsequently, Ganguly's original franchise, Kolkata Knight Riders, said that it would be open to having him on board in some capacity.