Hardik Pandya, Rashid Khan, Shubman Gill set to join Ahmedabad franchise

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Hardik Pandya, Rashid Khan, Shubman Gill set to join Ahmedabad franchise
© BCCI Hardik Pandya and Rashid Khan will both be in Ahmedabad colours for the 2022 IPL © BCCI

Hardik Pandya, Rashid Khan and Shubman Gill are set to be a part of the Ahmedabad franchise for the upcoming IPL season.

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The Ahmedabad franchise, which was bought last October by CVC Capital Partners (Irelia Company Pte Ltd), has also finalised its coaching staff – they will be led by former India fast bowler Ashish Nehra, and former South Africa batter and head coach Gary Kirsten. Former England batter Vikram Solanki, who is currently Surrey’s head coach, will be the team director.

This is the second IPL franchise where the trio of Nehra, Kirsten and Solanki will work together: the previous instance was at Royal Challengers Bangalore.

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Ahmedabad and Lucknow, the two new teams in the IPL, are yet to disclose the players they have bought but the deadline for doing so is fast approaching: January 22. Both teams were given the same purse – INR 90 crore – as the existing eight franchises. However, unlike the other teams, which could retain four players, the two new ones can buy a maximum of three players with the overseas slot limited to one.

While the IPL has set INR 15 crore, INR 11 crore and INR 7 crore for franchises retaining three players, ESPNcricinfo has learned that Ahmedabad have decided to pay both Hardik and Rashid the same amount – INR 15 crore. It is also learnt that Hardik is likely to take charge as Ahmedabad captain, a first experience for the allrounder in the IPL. The third player – Gill – will be paid INR 7 crore. This means the franchise will go into the auction in February with a purse of INR 53 crore.

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This is the first time Hardik and Rashid will play for the same team in the IPL, having previously represented Mumbai Indians and Sunrisers Hyderabad respectively. Hardik’s rise, since he was bought as an uncapped player for a mere INR 10 lakh in 2015, has been exponential. By 2018, he had established himself as the best allrounder in India and Mumbai duly retained him as their second pick at the auction that year, paying INR 11 crore. In the next two seasons, Hardik scored 762 runs and took 32 wickets in 29 games. He is a four-time title-winner: 2015, 2017, 2019 and 2020.

Hardik struggled with fitness issues over the last two IPLs, and did not bowl at all in this period. His batting, too, hasn’t been as effective as before. That forced Mumbai to look in a different direction as they retained the in-from Suryakumar Yadav, who has proven he can bat and accelerate at any position. Hardik is currently focussing on regaining complete fitness and has not been part of any of the Indian white-ball squads since the T20 World Cup.

As for Rashid, the Afghanistan legspinner became a big talking point immediately after Sunrisers decided to retain Kane Williamson, who will be full-time captain from IPL 2022, along with the uncapped Jammu & Kashmir pairing of Abdul Samad and Umran Malik

In 2017, Sunrisers bought Rashid for INR 4 crore and, a year later, they retained him for INR 9 crore. Remarkably, Rashid featured in all 76 matches played by Sunrisers since his debut, picking up 93 wickets at an economy rate of 6.33. Only Jasprit Bumrah has taken more wickets (104) than Rashid in the last five IPL seasons.

Both social media and rival teams were aghast that Rashid had not being retained in 2022. ESPNcricinfo has learnt that while Sunrisers did want to keep Rashid, they told him that he would be their second pick behind Williamson. The talks got derailed thereafter, which freed Rashid to weigh up his options, including going into the auction.

For Gill, this will be his second team in the IPL having been picked by Kolkata Knight Riders in the 2018 auction for INR 1.8 crore. The 22-year old, who has already played 10 Tests and three ODIs, has been earmarked as one of the brightest young talents of this decade, and at one point was even looked upon as a future leader by the Knight Riders. However, the Knight Riders had several other options when it came to retention and Gill had to be left out.

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