In what is the biggest IPL transfer saga till date, Gujarat Titans captain Hardik Pandya has made a sensational return to Mumbai Indians.
Who said cricket transfers can’t be as good as football ones? Three years ago, over 300,000 fans tracked Lionel Messi’s flight landing in Paris from Barcelona as the Argentine superstar completed his transfer to Paris Saint Germain. Cricket maybe the next in such a transfer saga as millions of Mumbai Indians fans braced for the return of prodigal son Hardik Pandya. After initial disappointments as Gujarat Titans announced that Hardik Pandya was retained ahead of IPL 2024 auction, the trade deal was confirmed.
In true Bollywood fashion, it wasn’t the end when the retention list was announced. two hours after the retention saga died down and Gujrat Titans fans breathed a sigh of relief, the update dropped. Hardik Pandya to Mumbai Indians was a done deal!
In fact, the trade window is open until a week before the auction i.e Dec 12. And to trade a player, Gujarat had to retain Hardik.
How it all unfolded?
It’s still unclear how and what triggered the trade deal. In his two-year tenure, Hardik Pandya has led Gujarat Titans to IPL title in 2022 and IPL final in 2023. In fact, hardly any team has been as consistent as GT in the last two seasons. Hardik Pandya has a record of winning 70.96% of the match as GT won 22 out of 31 games in the last two editions, making him one of the most successful leaders of IPL.
But on the Retention Deadline day, he completed a move to Mumbai Indians for a trade record Rs 15 Crore. However, Gujarat Titans won’t be taking any player from Mumbai Indians.
Instead, to make room for Hardik, Mumbai Indians have released Jofra Archer (8 Cr), Riley Meredith and Jhye Richardson. And MI have traded Cameron Green (Rs 17.25 Cr) to Royal Challengers Bangalore. With the money in the bank, MI have paid GT for Hardik Pandya’s homecoming.
As per reports, Hardik and Mumbai have been in talks about a possible trade deal since August. But InsideSport could not verify the claims. Hardik Pandya moved to Gujarat Titans after Mumbai Indians released the all-rounder ahead of the IPL 2022 mega auction. MI could only retain four players. And as newly-established Gujarat Titans and its head coach Ashish Nehra came calling, Hardik, who was still returning from a long-injury layoff at that point, jumped at the offer.
Hardik Pandya IPL stats