New Delhi, Feb 12 (IANS) Sri Lankan Mahela Jayawardene will lead new entrants Kochi to the Indian Premier League (IPL), and the franchise is trying to persuade Sourav Ganguly to join the team’s think-tank.
Kochi chairman Mukesh Patel said Jayawardene will lead the team in its debut season. The franchise bought the former Sri Lankan skipper for $1.5 million in January.
“We are happy to have Mahela. He is a great leader and getting him was on top of our priority list. I am sure we will have a great team under him,” Patel told IANS, adding that the franchise would soon finalise the name for the team and its logo.
“As for Ganguly, he is an experienced player and he will be an asset to the team in any capacity. We are still open to have him in a role that would help us in building the team for future. Ideally, we would like to see him mentoring the young players,” said Patel.
Asked why the franchise wanted to buy Ganguly out of auction, Patel said the team’s strategy was not formulated by the time of auction and when the team management thought of getting Ganguly as player, the IPL Governing Council (GC) put its foot down citing rules.
“During the players auction there was no plan to buy him. But later we thought we could use his experience. Unfortunately our request was turned down by the GC. We are fine with it, but his presence as a player would have made a big difference to the team.”
The 45-year-old businessman from Gujarat also dismissed allegations that the government is probing illegal funding of the franchise.
“We are open to any kind of investigation. In the past,too, we co-operated with the government and will continue to do so. I can assure everyone that everything is clean. At the end of the day all our shareholders are businessmen and they know how to handle it,” he said.
Patel also distanced the franchise from Harshad Mehta, a senior partner of Rosy Blue Group. Mehta has been reportedly served a notice by the government for tax evasion.
“Mr. Mehta is not associated with Kochi. He is just a partner in Rosy Blue, which is one of the promoters of the franchise,” said Patel.
Patel also informed that they will be recruiting domestic players from Kerala and the neighbouring states.
“We have started our recruitment process and our coach Jeff Lawson is on a talent hunt. There is a lot of talent in Kerala and Kochi IPL will give them the perfect platform,” he said.
Asked if they are facing any problem in recruiting players from its catchment areas in the neighbouring states, since they have their own IPL teams, Patel said: “Haven’t come across any problem. But if we do, we will surely take up the matter with the Governing Council.”
At a time when the teams are struggling to break even, Mehta sees a bright future for the franchise.
“This is a long time investment. We have to set long-term goals. It is like any other business and if we do well I have no doubt that we can rake in profits soon,” he said.