IPL – Hardik Pandya set to move from Gujarat Titans back to Mumbai Indians

Barring any last-minute changes, Hardik Pandya is set to leave Gujarat Titans and return to Mumbai Indians, where he started his IPL career in 2015. ESPNcricinfo has learned the trade is an all-cash deal, with Mumbai paying INR 15 crore ($1.8 million approximately) to Titans to secure Hardik, ahead of the 2024 IPL player auction on December 19.

In case the trade goes through, it will possibly be the biggest player trade in IPL history. Neither franchise has yet made any public comment on the trade though. The biggest challenge for Mumbai is to have an adequate purse for the trade. After the last auction, Mumbai had just INR .05 crore left. Franchises will get an additional 5 crore in their purse for the forthcoming auction. This only means Mumbai need to release player(s) to finish the Hardik trade. The retention deadline expires on November 26 at 4pm IST.

Hardik led Titans to the title in 2022, their debut season in the IPL, and was the Player of the Match in the final against Rajasthan Royals. In 2023, the Titans made the IPL final for the second time in two seasons, where they came runners up to Chennai Super Kings. In both seasons, under Hardik’s leadership, Titans had finished top of the points table in the league stage.

If the trade happens, Hardik will become the third captain to be traded after R Ashwin moved from Punjab Kings to Delhi Capitals, and Rajasthan Royals traded Ajinkya Rahane also to Capitals, in 2020.

When the Titans franchise, owned by global fund manager CVC Capital Partners, came into existence in 2021, they were allowed to pick three players from the pool released by other franchises before the mega auction. Titans signed Hardik and Afghanistan allrounder Rashid Khan for INR 15 crore each, with Shubman Gill their third pick at INR 7 crore.

It was at Mumbai, where Hardik began his IPL career and developed into one of the best allrounders in the game. Bought for INR 10 lakhs as an uncapped player in 2015, Hardik was a part of Mumbai’s title-winning seasons in 2015, 2017, 2019 and 2020.

Having been retained by Mumbai ahead of every auction until 2021, Hardik was finally released ahead of the 2022 mega auction, a decision that came as a surprise. Mumbai were allowed to retain only four players that year and they chose to keep Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Suryakumar Yadav and Kieron Pollard, paving the way for Titans to sign Hardik as their captain.

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