However, Pandya’s move to his old IPL franchise drew mixed reactions from all corners and former Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) team director Joy Bhattacharjya was not pleased with all-rounder’s decision to join Mumbai ahead of IPL 2024.
In a conversation on the Oaktree Sports YouTube channel, Bhattacharjya criticised Pandya’s surprising move by drawing parallels to an incident involving Ravindra Jadeja back in 2010.
Jadeja had faced consequences after refusing to renew his contract with the Rajasthan Royals as he wanted a transfer to Mumbai. The all-rounder was banned from the league for 1 year.
“I do not think it is a great idea for the tournament because something similar almost happened in 2010. Ravindra Jadeja did not play a particular season because he wanted to move on and the franchise had signed him. He had said that he doesn’t want to play for Rajasthan Royals anymore and so was banned for a year because they said that you cannot break the system. If a player suddenly says take me from the auction but I do not want to play for you…and once you start encouraging this trend then it will not be a good idea to go down that road. That is why it was stopped in 2010. But in 2023, you have allowed this to happen with a big player,” Bhattacharjya said.
“The truth of this is once you start allowing it, players will realise that if they can kick up enough of a fuss, the franchise will leave them…I don’t think this is a good precedent for the league,” the former KKR Team Director said.
Bhattacharjya also indicated that Gujarat likely had no alternative but to allow Hardik Pandya to move to the Mumbai as it was player’s own decision.
“Gujarat had two options. They could have allowed him to leave, make some money out of trade, and get some money for the organisation which is enough to retain another big-name player. The other option is with Hardik saying that he wants to leave, I would get one season of mediocre performance from him. Then he will leave and I will get nothing from it. Gujarat hence couldn’t have made any other choices given the circumstances.” he added.
Pandya on Monday reflected back on his journey with the five-time champions.
“I am back. Rohit, Bumrah, Surya, Ishan, Polly (Pollard), Malinga. Come on let’s begin. Obviously, the feeling of coming back to Mumbai is very special for a lot of reasons. How my cricketing journey started in 2015 with MI, them noticing me in 2013…when I look back…how my span of 10 years has been something very special. It has not sunk in yet that finally, I am back where my whole cricketing journey started. I have achieved all the possible things. They have been the most important part of my life,” Hardik said in a video posted by MI on X
‘We’re very grateful..”: Suryakumar Yadav hails PM Modi for motivating Team India in dressing room after World Cup final
He talked about the special bond he shares with the MI owners as well as the fans.
“Special bond with Akash and the whole family. They have been with me through thick and thin and it is much more emotional because it feels like I am coming back to my home. I am coming back to my family where it all started. Paltan, you supported me the first time and all the memories have a special place in my heart and all the memories have a special place in my heart. I know you will back me once again. We created history as a team and now I am looking forward to creating some wonderful moments with the boys once again. Mere hardik swagat ke liye, thank you,” Hardik added.
Hardik played 92 matches for MI from 2015 to 2021, scoring 1476 runs at an average of 27.33 at a strike rate of over 153, with four half-centuries and best score of 91.
He also took 42 wickets for the team, with the best bowling figures of 3/20.