New Delhi: Mumbai Indians, Kolkata Knight Riders or any other Indian Premier League team, for that matter, would give a fortune to get Mahendra Singh Dhoni on their team sheet for the upcoming seventh edition of the tournament, but they can’t.
He is one of the five players who have been retained by his franchise, the Chennai Super Kings. So, Dhoni and the other four — Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin and Dwayne Bravo — won’t go into the pool when the auction circus plays out on Wednesday and Thursday at a plush Bangalore hotel.
But sample this — going by the findings of the Justice Mudgal Committee, where Gurunath Meiyyapan has been found guilty of being involved in betting and passing information and has been identified as the ‘face’ and a ‘team official’ of CSK, the IPL governing council could invoke Clause 11.3 of the franchise agreement and throw CSK out of the IPL altogether.
The fate of CSK and Gurunath comes up for hearing in the Supreme Court only on March 7, when the Apex judicial body takes up the probe report for hearing.
The Mudgal panel has made it clear that it can only report a violation of rules to the Supreme Court and does not have a mandate to impose punishment. “It is for the honourable Supreme Court to decide what action, if any, is to be taken pursuant to the report of the committee,” it said.
However, the SC has not stayed the IPL auction, even though a petition asked for it. The court allowed the auction to go ahead, but at the same time, made it clear that its validity will be subject to the outcome of the petition challenging the auction and allowing CSK to take part.
If CSK is indeed expelled later, what happens to the Dhonis, the Rainas and the players that CSK buys at the auction? They would go back to the auction pool, even though the auction would have already taken place, and the franchises would have spent all or most of the money available to them.
Nobody is willing to speculate on CSK’s future, but a few franchises are already raising questions on the auction. “Should we approach the auction and bid according to the auction pool available right now or based on the assumption that CSK might be terminated?” a team official asked.
“Mind you, we are talking about Dhoni, the most popular and sought-after player and captain in the IPL. We will talk to the IPL governing council and give our views and hope they understand the situation and postpone the auction till the final decision is taken. Else, there will be confusion and bad blood all around,” he told MAIL TODAY.
The BCCI, meanwhile, wants to stick to Plan ‘A’ and hold the auction as scheduled. “When the SC is telling us to have the auction as slotted, why should we change? And as for CSK, it will be a long legal recourse. We have to wait till March 7 for the next hearing in the Supreme Court. We also need to evaluate the evidence cited by Justice Mudgal and then base our decision on CSK or any other aspect. That will take a lot of time, so we can’t keep deferring the auctions forever,” a top official said.