Kings XI Punjab have released Cheteshwar Pujara, Murali Kartik and L Balaji from their squad for the next season of IPL. Monday was the last day for franchises to send the IPL a list of players they wanted to release.
Kings XI can now add the amount generated from the release of Rs 4.7 crore ($782,000) to their auction purse for the 2015 season. The franchise paid Rs 1.9 crore for Pujara, Rs 1.8 crore for Balaji and Rs 1 crore for Kartik at the auction held this February.
All the three players had a poor 2014 in what turned out to be brilliant season for Kings XI, who reached their maiden IPL final. Pujara, who played as an opener, featured mainly in the first half of the campaign, scoring 125 runs in six matches (average 25, strike rate 100.8) with a highest of 40. Balaji, who is 33 years old, took 12 wickets from nine matches at an economy rate of 8.79.
Kartik, who retired from all cricket except Twenty20 last year, was forced to sit out virtually the entire tournament with the team management opting to play Akshar Patel, who recently got his India cap based on his spectacular performance as an allrounder during the IPL. Kartik, who is 38 years old, played just two matches and got a solitary wicket (average 91, economy rate 11.9).
Explaining the reasons behind the release, a Kings XI official said the franchise saw no role for the dropped three in the team set-up going forward. "It is to do with Twenty20 and performance," the Kings XI official said. "Pujara is really a big name for Test cricket. He is a solid player. He does not fit with the current team's composition in his role as a Twenty20 batsman. That is the same reason for the other two also."
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo