The Indian Premier League franchise owners of the team Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul represent have maintained a silence on the Koffee With Karan controversy. The message is loud and clear, Mumbai Indians and Kings XI Punjab are not ready to lose their key assets for the IPL 2019.
“We don’t deny what they said in not acceptable. Our management is clear that he (the player) will be sanitised before donning our jersey for the season. You will see a sea change in his behaviour. The issue has been discussed at length by our management. While the team owners are furious about the whole episode, management is of the view that we cannot make emotional decision,” a senior franchisee executive shared with this reporter on the condition of not revealing his or the team’s name.
“We cannot interfere with the BCCI inquiry. It is their prerogative. But the message has been delivered in certain terms that the player is crucial to us. It affects our team’s balance miserably. No other substitute can step in for him. Name one option who can even come closer. What we understand from the developments so far, the inquiry committee in all probability will advise on the degree of their guilt. That is going to be the mandate to the committee.
“The quantum of the penalty will eventually lie with the board. There are around two months for the league to start. We want the BCCI to complete all proceedings by the third week of February. So that the players are allowed to join the training camps.”
The franchisees have indirectly hinted that if the BCCI was considering a more severe penalty than keeping them out of the Australia and the New Zealand limited overs series, “they (the board or the CoA) can penalise them (Pandya and Rahul) financially by demoting them in their contract category. But why penalise us.
“There is nothing like sympathising. This is a pure professional call. Why do we indulge in morale policing. We are clear on how to handle him once he joins us for the league.”
The two franchisees, it is learnt, are on the same page with regard to Pandya and Rahul. While Pandya is the mainstay in the Mumbai Indians’ middle order and seam department, Rahul remains the core strength for the Punjab team batting. KXIP will find few options to replace him as a wicketkeeper-batsman.
The Kings XI, in a “worst case scenario” have the option to go for another overseas player. There, too, lies a concern to get a quality international cricketer for the entire duration of the league. The national cricket boards want their players to be back to join their teams for ICC World Cup preparations.
InsideSport.co also tried to reach out to several senior members of the other team, but they declined to comment.
Meanwhile, former India skipper Sourav Ganguly has advised to move on from the issue and forgive the players. Shikhar Dhawan has also confessed in the pre-match conference on the eve of India’s last match of the Australian tour that Pandya’s absence is affecting the balance of the team.
Meanwhile, brand and business strategist and owner of Harish Bijoor Consults Inc, Harish Bijoor also opines that the board will not hand the two players a penalty more severe than the provision ban for the two series – Australia ODIs and the New Zealand tour. “The recall from Australia and the public flogging of image is quite a punishment in itself. I am sure this is exemplary as it gets,” says Bijoor.