Will he, won’t he? That is the question. The franchise circle of the Indian Premier League (IPL) is agog with intense speculation over Chris Gayle — will he join the Royal Challengers Bangalore or not? The buzz is that the West Indian is doing a hard bargain to wear the red and gold colours of RCB in IPL 5.
The Vijay Mallya franchise has the first right of refusal for the Jamaican, who changed the team’s fortunes in IPL 4 with his buccaneering batting. Having picked him as a replacement player, they can sign him this year outside the auction but for that, the player’s consent is also mandatory. It was long thought to be a closed affair but somehow the deal has not yet come through. Now, Mallya has very little time on hand.
RCB have time up to January 20 to sign him as an overseas player, failing which the player automatically comes into the auction pool. Asked about the status of the negotiations, the team think tank prevaricated the issue. “We will let you know when we complete the deal,” said Anil Kumble, the team’s mentor.
There is, however, one catch to the whole issue. If they go on to sign up Gayle, RCB will be required to declare the signing money and that amount will be deducted from the team’s $2 million player purse. It will eventually mean that RCB would not be able to go to the auction with their full purse.
Smart money should be on RCB hanging on to their prized possession, but there is also a talk that some franchises have made enticing offers to the former West Indian captain. If he were to spurn RCB’s offer and make himself available for the auction, Gayle would, of course, break the ceiling, necessitating a tie-break. And it is likely that the team with the deepest pocket will bag him. Naturally, his presence will change the calculations of all the teams. Ravindra Jadeja, then, will cease to be the hottest property.
Meanwhile, Mumbai Indians have roped in Pragyan Ojha through the transfer window. The recruitment of the Deccan Chargers spinner means MI, who were expected to go for Jadeja, will have a different strategy at the auction. They are unlikely to have two left-arm-spinners.
January 20 is the deadline not just for Gayle but also for a certain Sourav Ganguly. The former India and KKR skipper will be required to be signed up by the Pune Warriors before the prescribed time if Dada were to have a chance to play in the IPL 5. Or else, he also might come to the auction. It is, however, understood that Ganguly will be signed up by the Pune team, but then no deal is over till it’s over.